Understanding of the current status and management practices of the village ponds in Chilika lagoon basin, Eastern India
Village ponds are important landscape components for local villages in India. They are culturally important, and provide important habitat for plants and animals. Yet, comprehensive studies on the distribution, ecology, management, and cultural usage of village ponds have not been thoroughly performed. Through questionnaires, the usage patterns, community management schemes, problems and status of the village ponds were identified. 57 villages in the Chilika lagoon catchment were randomly selected to acquire information about the villages, the existence of conservation activities associated with the ponds, construction and management schemes, and the reasons for abandoning ponds and their abandonment status. The main objectives of this research were 1) to evaluate the relative importance of four main roles (drinking water source, residential use, bathing, and agricultural use), and 2) to categorize management practices for the local communities.
In total, 6,077 village ponds were identified with a distribution density of 11.5/㎢. Average size was 3211 ± 8834㎡. While, the role as drinking water source was weak, ponds were actively utilized for domestic purposes (>96%). Most of the ponds were also utilized for fish farming (87.7%). Fish auctions were held about 1.4times/year for 66.7% of the ponds. Of the ponds only 38.6% were used as irrigation sources. Comparatively, 64.3% of the respondents reported that they have formal management authorities which consist of a certain number of villagers. Shallowing out due to siltation was the most common reason for abandoning ponds (53%) according to nearly a quarter of the respondents who reported having abandoned their ponds.
In order to maintain pond functions, the ponds were renovated once per 5.4 ±2.7 years. Villagers actively practiced various methods of renovation, such as pond cleaning, embankment, and sediment removal. 57.8% of the respondents described their routine methodologies for the pond water quality maintenance. Cleaning (weed and trash removal) was the most common activity performed by the local communities. Although water shortage till the following monsoon is a critical issue to the villagers, only one-third of the villages showed active control of the water level in the ponds. Considering the importance of the village ponds to the community, more systematic and participatory management by the community are strongly required for sustainable and effective use of the ponds.