Cabinet approves Rs 6,000 Atal Bhujal scheme for ground water management

A man fills up a container with drinking water as others wait in a queue in Chennai Photo: Reuters
The Cabinet on Tuesday approved the Atal Bhujal Yojana, a Rs 6,000 crore scheme that will be implemented in the next five years, with an aim to improve groundwater management through community participation in seven states.

Briefing reporters, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said the scheme is expected to benefit nearly 8,350 gram panchayats in 78 districts in Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

The scheme, also known as 'Atal Jal', will promote panchayat-led ground water management and behavioural change with primary focus on demand-side management.

A statement said of the total outlay of Rs 6,000 crore, 50 per cent shall be in the form of World Bank loan and will be repaid by the Central Government.

The remaining 50 per cent shall be through Central assistance from regular budgetary support. The entire World Bank's loan component and Central assistance shall be passed on to the states as grants, it said.

The scheme is aimed at contributing towards the goal of doubling farmers' incomes, promoting participatory ground water management, improving water use efficiency on a mass scale, improving cropping pattern and promoting efficient and equitable use of ground water resources and behavioural change at the community level, the statement added.

The scheme has two major components -- one is institutional strengthening and capacity building for sustainable ground water management in the states including improving monitoring networks, capacity building, strengthening of water user associations.

The second component is incentivising the states for achievements in improved groundwater management practices namely data dissemination, preparation of water security plans, implementation of management interventions through convergence of ongoing schemes, adopting demand side management practices, etc.

Ground water contributes to nearly 65 per cent of total irrigated area of the country and nearly 85 per cent of the rural drinking water supply.

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