National Watershed Development Programme
National Watershed Development Programme for Rain fed Areas (NWDPRA) is a programme subsumed under Macro Management of Agriculture (MMA) Scheme of Department of Agriculture & Cooperation which has been amended for the XI Five Year Plan. The guidelines of the revised MMA are also applicable from the financial year 2008-09. The NWDPRA was launched in 1990-91 in 25 States and two Union Territories and continues to be implemented during IX plan. During the IX Plan it is proposed to treat an area of 2.25 million hectares at an estimated cost of Rs. 1030.00 crores.
The broad objectives of the NWDPRA are:
- Conservation, development and sustainable management of natural resources including their use.
- Enhancement of agricultural productivity and production in a sustainable manner.
- Restoration of ecological balance in the degraded and fragile rainfed ecosystems by greening these areas through appropriate mix of trees, shrubs and grasses.
- Reduction in regional disparity between irrigated and rainfed areas.
- Creation of sustained employment opportunities for the rural community including the landless.
Sequence of activities and their operational modalities under NWDPRA would vary from situation to situation depending upon the status of land degradation, prevailing farming system practices in the selected watershed and prioritization of activities set by the watershed community. Hence, the instructions are made flexible to the extent that desired modifications could be considered at different levels, subject to the condition that provisions contained in the WARASA ANASAHABHAGITA Guidelines, Common Guidelines for Watershed Development Projects issued by the National Rainfed Area Authority (NRAA) and those approved for the Macro Management of Agriculture (MMA) scheme of Department of Agriculture & Cooperation.
- Treatment of non-arable lands for soil and moisture conservation and biomass production through afforestation, horticulture and pasture development.
- Treatment of arable lands for better in-situ soil and moisture conservation and to enhance production through cost effective, sustainable and replicable cropping techniques with minimum infrastructure and soil conservation measures.
- Adoption of alternate land use to prevent ploughing of steep slopes and thereby reducing runoff and soil erosion by taking up horticulture, silviculture and silvipasture.
- Development of water resources and improve recharge of underground aquifers.
- To increase the average income of small and marginal farmers and landless families through increased casual employment on marketable surplus of agricultural and dairy produce and by growing cash crops like vegetables.
- To improve the social status and living standard of watershed inhabitants.
At present different states are implementing the NWDPRA programme through different departments namely department of agriculture; department of watershed development; soil conservation department; land development corporation; etc. Likewise these departments are having their respective offices at the district level. In some districts where the technology dissemination component of National Agriculture Technology Project (NATP) is operating, an autonomous agency namely Agriculture Technology Management Agency (ATMA) has also been established, recently. Each state may accordingly identify a nodal department at the district level to carry out over all management and supervision of the programme For this purpose, a Committee shall be constituted under the Chairmanship of District Head of the Nodal Department.
Criteria for selection of watershed project
- Blocks having less than 30 percent assured means of irrigation in the arable land.
- Identification of priority micro watersheds
- Identification of villages having prioritized watersheds based on acuteness of drinking water, preponderance of wastelands / degraded lands, extent of exploitation of ground water, contiguity of watersheds, willingness of community, non availability of assured irrigation etc.,
- To ensure completion of targeted activities in the plan period
- Watershed area of the NWDPRA projects should not overlap with any other developed/ongoing watershed projects funded by State Governments or any other agencies.
Technology aspects of watershed management project
Technologies under Watershed development programme can broadly be classified in two types:
For development of natural resources : conservation and upgradation technologies For enhancement of production and productivity of different commodities and combination of commodities production system technologies.
Conservation Technologies: Conventional soil conservation technologies e.g. diversion drains, contour bunds with waste weirs / compromised contour bunds on lower field boundaries, check dams and drop-structures are universally recommended, planned and implemented over large areas covering different ecological endowments. Such measures are to be built upon indigenous practices like terraces in hilly areas and shelter belts in arid areas adjoining deserts and coastal sand dune regions.
Benefits of NWDPRA:
- Drought proofing
- Erosion control
- Increase in agricultural production.
- Increased availability of fodder, fuel and timber.
- Ground water recharge.
- Creation of durable assets
- Restoration of ecological balance.
- Employment generation
- Ensuring desired cropping intensity in rainfed agriculture.
- Protection of the tableland and
- stabilization of gullies.