‘Haryana aims to reduce groundwater depletion by 50 per cent in five years’

HARYANA ADDITIONAL Chief Secretary (Irrigation and Water Resources Department), Devender Singh, said that under the Atal Bhujal Yojana, the state would target to reduce the groundwater depletion by a minimum of 50 per cent over a period of the next five years.

Singh, while addressing a state-level workshop on Atal Bhujal Yojana — organised jointly by the Haryana Water Resources Authority (HWRA) and Irrigation and Water Resources Department — on Friday, also said that 14 districts of the state would be covered under the scheme, which includes 36 groundwater stressed blocks, with a total of 1669 gram panchayats. The workshop was conducted for sensitisation of various line departments and district implementation partners.

The Atal Bhujal Yojana (or Atal Jal) is a groundwater management scheme launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the 95th birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, on 25 December 2019. The purpose of the scheme is to improve groundwater management in seven states of India.

The major objective of this scheme is to create the hydrogeological data network of groundwater resources in Haryana and also to build community institutions to manage the groundwater resources in the state. As a part of the programme, community mobilisation and awareness activities, as well as capacity building of stakeholders, will be taken up. Initially, the water security plan of each village would be prepared and the same would be implemented over the next four years.

While throwing light on various initiatives taken by the state government to work towards arresting the depleting groundwater table, Singh stressed upon making the invisible visible — taking the actual data of groundwater table available to all the citizens. He said that the strategy would be to use the decision support tools for groundwater management by strengthening community-based institutions to foster management, thus improving water use efficiency and enhancing groundwater recharge.

He said that in Atal Jal, funds are to flow from the Central government to the states and from there onwards to the appropriate implementing levels — districts, blocks, gram panchayats, and other beneficiaries. He emphasised on the ‘Mera Pani Meri Virasat’ scheme that incentivized farmers of Rs 7000 per hectare when adopting paddy to non-paddy crops. Under this scheme, the government also ensures Minimum Support Price (MSP) for crops to promote crop diversification. The major focus would be on the convergence of the national and state scheme, which would pave the way for the success of this programme, he added.

Addressing the workshop, Keshni Anand Arora, chairperson of Haryana Water Resources Authority, said that this workshop on participatory water management has been organised for bringing together the groundlevel workers of Atal Bhujal and other line departments whose policies can be brought into Atal Jal Scheme through convergence. While emphasising on the need for community participation to achieve the target under this programme, she said the DIPs should ensure community participation at every level of engagement.

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