Mumbai: Suresh Khanapurkar, a former PWD engineer, whose water conservation work in the Shirpur taluka of Dhule district has gained popularity, was on Friday named winner of the Vasantrao Naik Agriculture award.
While Khanapurkar was among the awardees named in the individual category, the Krishi Vidnyan Kendra, Jalna bagged the award in the group category. The awards are named after former state chief minister Vasantrao Naik.
Gopal Mekhle, who left a cushy job in the IT sector and took up modern farming in his village Sugaon in Latur district, is also among the awardees, secretary of the Vasantrao Naik Krishi Sanshodhan and Gramin Vikas Pratishthan, Vinaykumar Patwardhan told reporters.
Shirpur was once regarded as a drought-hit region but now has enough water availability despite scanty rainfall.
This is largely because of the efforts of Khanapurkar. Even the Maharashtra government is now building cement check dams modelled on Khanapurkar`s "Shirpur pattern" in Dhule district.
The Shirpur pattern was introduced by Khanapurkar a decade ago to arrest water flowing from the hills and ensure percolation, raise the ground water level and thus create water availability throughout the year.
Patwardhan welcomed Maharashtra government`s decision to rename Marathwada Agricultural University in Parbhani after Naik. The move comes in the birth centenary of Naik.
Naik had played a vital role in setting up four universities in the state, he said.
The awards will be presented here on July 1 by Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.