On Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated “Atal Bhujal Yojana“, a scheme aimed at improving groundwater management through community participation, on the occasion of 95th birth anniversary of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Stressing the need to use technology to prevent wastage of water in various spheres, especially in agriculture, PM Modi flagged off Atal Bhujal Yojana, a central sector scheme with a total outlay of Rs 6,000 crore to be implemented over a period of five years from 2020 to 2025.
Key features of Atal Bhujal Yojana:
What is Atal Bhujal Yojana?
With the intention of addressing the problem of fast depleting groundwater resources, the government of India has planned to introduce the Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABY). The programme is expected to lay emphasis on the recharge of groundwater resources and better exploitation of the groundwater resources, with the involvement of people at the local level.
Atal Bhujal Yojana will promote participatory groundwater management. The scheme will improve water use efficiency on a mass scale and improve cropping pattern. The scheme will contribute towards the goal of doubling the farmers’ income.
The scheme will be implemented and looked over by the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation.
Major components of the scheme:
The first major component of the scheme is institutional strengthening and capacity building for sustainable groundwater management in the states including improving monitoring networks, capacity building, strengthening of water user associations.
The second component is incentivising the states for achievements in improved groundwater management practices namely data dissemination, preparation of water security plans, implementation of management interventions through the convergence of ongoing schemes, adopting demand-side management practices, etc.
Beneficiaries of the scheme:
The scheme will benefit about 8,350 Gram panchayats in 78 districts in seven states. Atal Bhujal Yojana will also promote panchayat-led groundwater management and behavioural change with a primary focus on demand-side management.
A central sector scheme to be implemented over a period of five years from 2020-21 to 2024-25, it aims to improve groundwater management through community participation in identified priority areas in seven states – Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
Funding for Atal Bhujal Yojana:
In the total outlay of Rs 6,000 crore, 50% shall be in the form of World Bank loan and will be repaid by the Central Government. The remaining 50% shall be through Central assistance from regular budgetary support. The entire World Bank’s loan component and Central assistance shall be passed on to the states as grants.
The Narendra Modi’s decision to launch its ambitious project Atal Bhujal Yojana comes after the Central Ground Water Board had reported regarding the depletion of groundwater at an alarming rate in 30% of the assessed blocks during the assessment of groundwater in the country.
According to a World Bank Report, India accounts for about 25% of the total groundwater abstraction, globally. The increasing number of dark zones – the areas where annual consumption of water exceeds the annual recharge of groundwater, makes it imperative for this programme to be implemented.
Reportedly, India annually extracts 245 Billion Cubic Meter (BCM) of groundwater which accounts for nearly 25% of the total global groundwater abstraction. About 222 BCM out of 245 BCM of groundwater is being used annually for irrigation while remaining 23 BCM is consumed by the domestic and industrial sector.
Speaking after launching Atal Bhujal Yojana in New Delhi, PM Modi said that the water crisis not only affects citizens and families but also the nation and its development. He said that only three crore out of 18 crore rural households today have clean piped water and the Government has aimed to provide the remaining 15 crore rural households with piped water in the next five years.
The PM urged farmers to switch over to crops that use less water and exhorted people not to waste the precious natural resource in daily household needs. He urged start-ups to come up with technology to ensure minimal use of water for various needs. He said that the Jal Shakti Ministry has brought water from compartmentalized approach and stressed on the comprehensive approach.