The Central Government has initiated a project known as Atal Bhujal Yojana to address the conditions of water bodies across the country. The project, which is endorsed and funded by the World Bank, is intended to improve groundwater management and maintain it as a sustainable source. It will be functional for a period of five years from the current period, i.e., the scheme will run its course from 2018-19 through 2022-23.
The budget for Atal Bhujal Yojana
A total budget of Rs.6000 crore has been allocated for the project. The quantum of funds will be mutually shared between the Indian Government and the World Bank. These funds will be distributed to the various states for strengthening the institutions undertaking water governance and encouraging community involvement for improving groundwater management, which will in-turn trigger behavioral changes that could pave the way for promoting conservation and efficient use of water.
Moreover, the project will be integrated with the current schemes of the Government by incentivizing their focused implementation in targeted areas. The project is to be extended to almost 8350 Gram Panchayats across 78 districts.
The scheme is focused on improving groundwater management in specific areas of the country through community participation. The areas of consideration cover the States of Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh; as these states rank higher among the over-exploited, critical, and semi-critical blocks in terms of the groundwater scenario. Also, these states combine the nation’s major groundwater in alluvial and hard rock aquifers and are blessed with varying degrees of institutional readiness and expertise in groundwater management. One of the stand-out characteristics of the scheme is that it facilitates the beneficiaries to utilize the groundwater from the Ganges.
Aspects of Regulation
The Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) is entrusted with the responsibility of regulating groundwater development. Deputy Commissioners and District Magistrates of the respective states and union territories have been licensed to initiate work under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1936 in the event of any contraventions of the directives prescribed by CGWA.
The project proposes to involve the community with activities such as the formation of water user associations, observing and circulating groundwater data, allocation of budgets, and so on and so forth. Moreover, the community would be initiating the formulation and implementation of water security plans for each Gram Panchayat and will actively participate in IEC activities that are connected with sustainable groundwater management.
The involvement of the community is likely to encourage bottom-up groundwater planning process which improves the effectiveness of public financing and align the implementation of other similar functions of the government.
The scheme is formed to:
- Grant more awareness on aspects related to groundwater.
- Render a focused and integrated community-based approach to tackle issues joined with groundwater depletion.
- Grant sustainable groundwater management through the convergence of current governmental schemes.
- Facilitate adoption of proper water use practices that limit the use of water for irrigation.
- Augmentation of groundwater resources in focused areas.