Gujarat bags PM award for water management PUBLIC REPORTER
Under the visionary leadership of chief minister Narendra Modi, Gujarat has been spinning the wheel to be a success model in water management programme. Gujarat is the only state where groundwater level has considerably increased in the last eight years as data from the Central Ground Water Board shows. Over 5.5 lakh water management structures have been created in last 10 years which include check dams, boribandhs and khet talavadis. Besides this, 4.5 lakh hectares land covered under micro-irrigation has resulted in highest decadal agricultural growth rate of 10.97% during the period 2000-01 to 2009-10.
The initiatives being taken by the Gujarat government in watershed management programme are recognised by the government of India and the project will receive the prime minister’s award for excellence in public administration on Civil Service Day 2012 on April 21.
Gujarat is among the front runners in the country in taking up new projects employing techniques like water harvesting, water harnessing and water management. One of the remotest villages of Gujarat, Eval in Patan district, has reported wonderful results in mere one year’s time to become a model village for the other states. Once a parched village where farmers could only dream of a lowly pearl millet, now every farmer in Eval is cultivating castor in an area of 2.4 ha and 10 farmers are cultivating cumin in the remaining 15.6 ha. The average productivity of cumin varies from 6 to 8 quintal/ha and castor is 25-30 quintal/ha.
Overcoming a challenging situation where the state’s 20% area had 71% water resource and 80% areas had the rest, Gujarat speeded up rainwater harvesting replenishing the rapidly depleting ground water levels which led to water security and sustainability. The chief minister has taken the water resources to people’s doorsteps down to village level through WASMO’s participatory distribution system - a UN award-winning initiative of Gujarat.
The Gujarat State Watershed Management Agency (GSWMA) is the nodal agency to implement Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) across the state. The main aims of the IWMP are to restore the ecological balance by harnessing, conserving and developing degraded natural resources such as soil, vegetative cover and water. The outcomes proposed are prevention of soil run-off, regeneration of natural vegetation, rainwater harvesting and recharging of the groundwater table. This is expected to enable multi-cropping and the introduction of diverse agro-based activities, which help to provide sustainable livelihoods to the people residing in the watershed area.
Modi’s vision of Jal Shakti to Jal Kranti has lead to watershed development, construction of check dams, farm ponds and methods to obstruct flow of water through cement filled bags -- spearheading a people’s movement and showing a futuristic approach for water harvesting, conserving water for tomorrow.
Right from the planning phase of the project, scientific tools have been used to ensure accuracy and efficiency. The approach followed for planning involves: i) creation, development and management of geo-spatial data base depicting present conditions of land, water and vegetation with respect to watershed under different ownerships at village level, ii) compatible socio-economic aspects and their analysis, iii) historical perspective land-water treatment of the area. The working module developed by the Gujarat State Watershed Management Agency has been widely appreciated at National level in multiple fora.
Total 21.34 lakh ha area with an outlay of Rs 2,769.72 crores has been covered under IWMP for the implementation that includes three batches sanctioned in 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12 respectively. For monitoring purpose too, geo-information system (GIS) has is being utilized.
Processes have been standardized and accordingly Technical Manual, Capacity Building Manual, Human Resource Manual, Livelihood Manual & Operational Guidelines have been framed and operationalized. It has been made mandatory to converge with other schemes and programmes to bridge the fund gap and remove the duplication of works. Convergence worth Rs 283.02 crore have been taken up for the projects sanctioned in 2009-10.
In Gujarat, first time in the watershed programme, livelihood activities have been included to extend benefits to landless and asset-less people of the project area. A livelihood action plan has been prepared and being implemented across the state. Batch-wise budgetary allocation for livelihood is 215 crores, 180 crores and 185 crores for the projects sanctioned in the year 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12 respectively.
The outcome of the watershed programme has been impressive. A study conducted by the Gujarat Institute of Development Research (GIDR) for National Institute for Rural development (NIRD) recently has provided the following impacts of WDP:
· Around 90% of watersheds report increase in ground water (more than 1 metre)
· 88% of watersheds have reported reduction in soil loss (more than 25%)
· 85% of watersheds reported more than 100% increase in cropping intensity
· 60% watersheds reported increase in cereal yield (more than 50%) and 62% reported increase in yield (more than 25%) of cash crops
· 93% watersheds reported increase in employment as labour days
The authors are with the information department, government of Gujarat.
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