Policy uncertainty hampers water conservation work

Policy uncertainty hampers water conservation work

NASHIK: Water conservation and watershed development is a long and continuous process. There has to be consistency in the plans. In Maharashtra, during the last 50 years or so, there has been a constant flurry of policies while implementing the scheme. This led to the misery of well-intentioned schemes and programmes.

From now on, water conservation and watershed works can change the picture of villages if policy participation and public participation increased in a good manner, thus expressed Chandrakant Dalvi, a retired IAS officer, and architect of Jalsamruddhi in Nidhal village (Satara) and President of Sattva Foundation. He was speaking in the lecture ‘How to make a water-rich village’ in the programme ‘Sahyadri Samvad’ organized by Sahyadri Farms of Nashik on the occasion of Water Conservation Day.

Dalvi said that water conservation and watershed development is a long and continuous process. It requires consistency at all levels. It takes willpower. It is hoped that the elected members of the gram panchayat will do all the development works. It’s not true. For this, each village should set up an independent village development committee. This committee should be freed from politics and factionalism.

Through this committee, many works can be done for the development of the village, including water conservation, through the triad of public participation, public subscription and assistance of government schemes, said Dalvi and added that development works were carried out in Nidhal with the help of people who had left the village for work.

This is the only instance in the country where high quality watershed works have been carried out. Its maintenance and repair was also continuous. With the addition of supplementary schemes for water conservation, the village has become water-rich, Dalvi explained. He also assured that guidance would be given on behalf of Sattva Foundation for the villages who want to do water conservation works.

What went wrong with Jalyukt Shivar?

According to the report of the Sukhthankar Committee of 1973, the main recommendation was that water conservation works should be done on a watershed basis. In 1994, the Dr Hanumantrao Committee issued guidelines for watershed development. The Integrated Watershed Management Programme of the central government was started in 2009-10. For this purpose, the Vasundhara Watershed Development System was established for coordination in the state.

The plan worked very well. But there was no continuity. Funds for all the schemes were collected under Jalayukta Shivar Yojana. However, the plan completely lost the focus of the water conservation and watershed programme and remained limited only to the removal of silt from rivers and streams. That is why this plan has been criticized.

"If the right crop pattern is not selected and the value chain is not added to the crop, then aquaculture is of no use. Crops such as custard apple, borer, cactus, yam, peruvian, which were once known to live in shallow water on the farm threshold, could be prosperous in the future. While developing the value chain of Sahyadri, emphasis is being laid on efficient use of water and more profitable crops." - Vilas Shinde, Sahyadri Farms, Mohadi

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