After facing major water crisis last year owing to insufficient rainfall, ten villages of Kalamb Taluka in Usmanabad district strived rigorously to conserve water with the assistance of a local sugar factory by developing irrigation projects.
As a result, even after scarce rainfall this year, the villagers didn’t face shortage. According to the technical director of the local sugar factory, which had to spend its own money for this venture, lack of watershed developments projects in these parts prompted the owner of the unit to back the undertaking.
However, the situation is likely to change, as Vasundhara Watershed Development Agency – a state-level nodal body appointed by the central government to implement its watershed management programme – is coming up with its ambitious master plan to cover entire Maharashtra under such projects by 2025. As a part of the blueprint, Vasundhara has already started working on defining the drought-prone areas in various districts of the state with the help of NGOs.
“The topography of the state is not suitable for irrigation projects and watershed development ventures are the only option to meet the need of water. That’s the reason every year we try our best to acquire funds for as many watershed management projects as possible. However, now we are focusing on areas, which have so far not been brought under such undertakings, as a part of our master plan,” said Ganesh Chaudhari, additional chief executive officer of Vasundhara Watershed Development Agency.
He added that the he had already appointed a nodal officer in all the districts of the state who would make a survey to define the drought prone areas which were not having watershed development projects. The central government had already sanctioned 948 projects under its new scheme Integrated Watershed Development Program (IWMP) which was started in 2010.
Chaudhari recently proposed 116 new watershed management projects across the state over 5.19 lakh hectares. He added that he submitted his recommendations to the department of land resources for sanctioning Rs 665 crore for this under IWMP. “We have proposed Junnar and Velha taluka in Pune district for the upcoming watershed projects,” added Chaudhari. So far (since 2010) 31 watershed projects have been undertaken by Vasundhara in Pune district.
Jalbiradari – an organisation that is re-establishing community rights over water management is helping Vasundhara in increasing people’s participation for this project. “Vasundhara has been undertaking watershed management projects for many years. However, lack of citizens’ involvement has stopped these projects from being the success they could have been. However, as the resident of the state have already faced an acute drought situation, they are now coming ahead to participate in the various activities that would be helpful for achieving the master plan,” said Jalbiradari activist Sunil Joshi.
5.19 Lakh hectares Amount of land the agency is to bring under the Integrated Watershed Management Programme
Rs 665 Crore Funds sanctioned by Department of Land Resources for the project
Did you know?
Watershed is an area above a given drainage point on a stream that contributes water to the flow at that location. In other words, a watershed is a geohydrological unit or a piece of land that drains at a certain point. It is a natural unit draining runoff water to a common point of outlet. Catchments basin and drainage basin are synonymous with watershed.