Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Atal Bhujal Yojana on 25 December 2019 on the 95th birth anniversary of our former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Also known as Atal Jal or Atal Groundwater Scheme. This scheme aims to improve groundwater management in states under stress in terms of groundwater. Read the article to know more about the scheme.
What is the Atal Bhujal Yojana Scheme?
Launched on the 95th birth anniversary of our former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee the Atal Bhujal Yojana, as the name suggests, aims to improve the water management in those areas where groundwater availability is not good. The scheme focuses on working in a way which does not harm the environment. It is a sustainable groundwater management scheme where the active participation of community members is seen.
The scheme focused on those states now under stress zones, and a sustainable approach can be taken to solve the problem. The Atal Bhujal Yojana aims to achieve its goal with the participation of local community members. This Centre government scheme is worth around ₹6000 crore and is funded by the Government of India and The World Bank. The distribution of the funds between these two is fifty-fifty.
The scheme is being implemented by the Ministry of Jal Shakti which at the time of its launch of this scheme was known as the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation. The scheme will benefit the farmers as with proper management of underground water, the income and produce of farmers are expected to double.
According to the official website:
The primary objective of this Scheme is “to improve the management of groundwater resources in the water stressed areas of the selected States.” This will be achieved by implementing appropriate investments/management actions led by community through convergence of various ongoing /new central and state schemes.
States Under Atal Bhujal Yojana
The scheme is being implemented over a period of five years in the states and regions selected by the government where groundwater is over-exploited, and areas lie in the stress zone. States like – Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan Haryana, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh are to be benefited. According to an official notice under the Atal Bhujal Yojana, around 8350-gram panchayat distributed in around 78 districts in these states will be helped.
At the level of the panchayat, the scheme focuses on promoting groundwater management which will be led by the panchayat. Besides this, the scheme also focuses on changing the behaviour and habits of the local community to achieve its aim.
Components of Atal Bhujal Yojana
The government plans to tackle the problem of underground water management in four ways
- A management system will be developed to implement the program in selected states, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan Haryana, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. This system will be responsible for looking up the water security plans of the government. The management will also be responsible for keeping an eye on the groundwater levels and charts and the quality of the water.
The money provided under the scheme of Atal Bhujal Yojana will enable the institution to collect information about the problem and the ways to tackle it. More appropriate forms will be taken after in-depth studies to tackle the problem.
Recharge Underground Water levels by educating and raising awareness among the local community. The community members will be educated about the importance of recharging the underground water and the threat the problem of lowering underground water levels poses.
Transfer of money and responsibilities to the lower level of governing bodies will be done. The funds will be transferred to the state government by the central government and from there to respective bodies at lower levels like districts, gram panchayat and farmers. The Government of India will move towards Fiscal Decentralisation.
The overall estimate of the scheme is about ₹6,000 crore. In this, fifty per cent of the amount will be paid by a loan taken from the World Bank, and the remaining fifty per cent will be given by the Central Government. The loan will be paid back to the central government only. The total amount will be distributed among different states as grants.
Agencies to implement the Atal Bhujal Yojana
At the central level, the scheme will be implemented by Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) under the Ministry of Jal Shakti. At the time of the launch of this scheme, was known as the Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation. This will develop technologies and monitor the national policies to achieve the goal of the scheme which is sustainable groundwater management.
In the states, the agency which will look at this scheme’s functioning is State Program Implementation Agency. Technical support will be provided to State Program Implementation Agency by different departments like the Agriculture Department, the Panchayati Department, the Public Health and Engineering Department, and the Water Resources Department. According to the official website, the groundwater agencies that will look up the work in every state are-
The ground water agencies of the concerned states are as follows
• Gujarat – Gujarat Water Resources Development Corporation Limited under the Department of Water Resources
• Haryana – Ground Water Cell under the Department of Agriculture
• Karnataka – State Ground Water Directorate under the Water Resources Department
• Madhya Pradesh – Ground Water Division under the State Water Resources Department
• Maharashtra – Ground Water Surveys and Development Agency
• Rajasthan – Ground Water Directorate under the Public Health Engineering Department
At the district level, a District Program Management Unit will be set up in each district which will work with Gram Panchayat to implement the scheme at lower levels.
And finally, at the Gram Panchayat level the last and essential step establishes the connection between the community and government, the Water Management Committee and The Village Water and Sanitation Committee.
The scheme will directly and positively impact all those occupations and workers who depend on the groundwater. Areas like agriculture will be profitable. Labourers and small farmers are sure to benefit.
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