The Centre has selected Maharashtra, along with seven other states, for its Neeranchal project, which are rainfed regions, still successfully implementing the watershed development programme in their respective states.
Under the project, the World Bank would donate funds around Rs 1,350 crore through its agency International Development Association. The money would later be distributed among the eight states.
“The agreement would be signed between World Bank and Government of India in December and then World Bank would give the 50 per cent of the total expenditure of Rs 2,868 crore for the Neeranchal project,” said Ganesh Chaudhari, additional chief executive officer of Vasundhara Watershed Development Agency, a state-level nodal body appointed by the central government to implement the watershed management programme.
Chaudhari said that of the remaining expenses for the project, the Centre would bear 40 per cent of the cost, while the state government would bear the remaining 10 per cent. The actual work on the project would begin in the next six months, as the general elections kick off across the country.
However, the agreement would be signed with certain rules and regulations laid down by the Word Bank for successful implementation of the project.
“After getting the funds from World Bank, the traditional crop pattern of kharif (cropping season from July-October) and rabi (cropping season from October-March) would be changed and the new pattern would be implemented under which cropping would be based on water availability,” said Chaudhari.
He added that Neeranchal would also take efforts to increase income sources of farmers, by giving funds to purchase best quality seeds and fertilizers. Apart from this, the agricultural productivity would also be increased by around 20 per cent.
“The renowned agriculture colleges across the state would also have to contribute by doing research in the cropping pattern. Besides the new technologies would be adopted to strengthen the existing watershed development system,” said Chaudhari.
State water conservation minister Nitin Raut, while speaking to MiD DAY, said it was a matter of pride for the state to be selected for the Neeranchal programme. “The state would immediately share its fund for the project. The state has also made a convincing presentation in front of World Bank officials in Delhi in the month of September and sent the proposal well in advance to receive the funds. The state would benefit hugely in the field of water management, through these funds,” added Raut
What is the Neeranchal Project?
Neeranchal project has been conceived to strengthen implementation of IWMP, giving focus to areas of planning, capacity building, improved production technology, monitoring and evaluation. Neeranchal will focus on rain-fed areas of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Rajasthan. Together, the states make up 68 per cent (or 58 m.ha.) of country’s net rain-fed agriculture area