Watershed Development In India
Watershed programme is a demand driven participatory approach which is being gradually institutionalized. This kind of innovative project was started after 1998 through large scale adoption of common guidelines issued by Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India. Since it is a complete shift from conventional programmes implemented so far by Government agencies, people involved in the programmes have experienced a new paradigm. Still they could not be able to come out of the conventional type of project implementation, they need some more time to understand fully about this participatory stake holders’ approach. Here is an urgent need for action research on the grassroots of watershed management.
India is one of the major agricultural countries with more than 70% of the population depending on it. Indian agriculture is dependent on monsoon which is not uniform over the years. Nearly three fourths of the cultivable land in India is dependent on monsoon, which is contributing nearly 42% of the total production from agriculture. The productivity of any crop mainly depends on two natural resources− land and water in addition to management practices. Therefore the conservation, upgradation and utilization of these two natural resources on scientific principles is essential for the sustainability of rainfed agriculture.
The watershed concept for development of rain fed agriculture is gaining importance over the years and it amply demonstrates that watershed developmental tools are very effective in meeting the objectives and the mission. In the words of eminent economist, C.H. Hanumantha Rao "Watershed development has been conceived basically as a strategy for protecting the livelihoods of the people inhabiting the fragile ecosystems experiencing soil erosion and moisture stress".
The literature on watershed development in India is growing rapidly, but most of it is confined to qualitative descriptions of success stories. Some of these contain excellent insights into the social processes that contribute to successful watershed development, but there is little frank discussion of less successful projects. The few quantitative studies available tend to be based on a small number of heavily supervised projects, with no information about long−term effects. Benefits after the first year or two were typically assumed, and, not surprisingly, cost−benefit findings were almost always favorable. At the same time, the vast majority of projects were never evaluated, and there were good reasons to suspect that most of them had little impact (Kerr and Sanghi 1992).
WATERSHED DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMMES
In our country, developmental activities are charted out through Five−year plans. Five year plans are formulated with four dimensions viz., improvement of quality of life, generation of productive employment, regional balance, and self−reliance. These dimensions are reflected by programmes developed on watershed basis. In
addition it also supports agriculture and rural development, food security, empowerment of women, gender equality, environmental sustainability and encouraging people’s representative bodies.
The Union Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), Ministry of Rural Development (MORD), and Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) along with their respective departments in the states, are the three main government ministries incharge of watershed development programmes in the country. Each programme focuses on different aspects and activities within the ministry’s development criteria. The MOA has worked in watershed development since the 1960s and mainly deals with issues, including erosion−prone agricultural lands, optimizing production in rain−fed areas and reclaiming degraded land.
The Department of Agriculture and Co− operation and the Department of Agricultural Research and Education of the MOA are involved in all aspects of watershed development. They are supported by two autonomous bodies; the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, and the National Institute for Agricultural Extension and Management. The MOA is currently implementing several schemes/programmes, including the National Watershed Development Project for Rain−fed Areas, Soil and Water Conservation in the Catchments of River Valley Projects (RVPs) and Flood Prone Rivers, Watershed Development Project in Shifting Cultivation Areas, Reclamation of Alkali Soil, Watershed Development Fund and Externally Aided Projects (EAPs).
The MORD has been implementing watershed development projects only since the late 1980s. It deals with non−forest wastelands and poverty alleviation programmes having components of soil and water conservation. Watershed programmes implemented by MORD include the Drought Prone Areas Programme, Desert Development Programme, Integrated Wastelands Development Programme, and EAPs. Since 1989, the MOEF has been implementing the National Afforestation and Eco−development Project, with the intention of promoting afforestation and development of degraded forests within an integrated watershed approach. Up to the X Plan (2002−07), nearly 51 mha has been developed on watershed basis. The MORD accounted for 63% of the ’treated’ area, spending nearly 50% of the total funds and the MOA ’developed’ the remaining 37% of the area, but used slightly more than 50% of the total funds. The MOEF and Planning Commission had only limited involvement in it.
Over the past three decades, India has addressed these challenges head−on and made major investments in the area of watershed management through an appropriate mix of technical innovations, participatory approaches, and an enabling policy environment. There is certainly evidence of positive impacts in terms of improved soil and water conservation and agricultural productivity in normal rainfall years in regions which have been ignored in the conventional green−revolution based rural development. Countries in Sub−Saharan Africa, South−East Asia and even China look towards India to learn from these experiences and adopt this unique natural resource based rural development model. However, overall gains from watershed development have not been equitably shared, either within the farming community or between different geographical settings. This calls for an assessment of watershed development and management approaches with a view to addressing biophysical, socio− economic, and institutional and policy issues.
The various limitations of watershed programmes, are as follows:−
1. Productivity gains are often limited and temporary.
2. Landless and marginal farmers often benefit only marginally or not at all, increasing inequities at the village level.
3. Common lands do not get adequately treated and re−vegetation does not take place as expected.
4. Gains from recharge of groundwater are rapidly dissipated through increased withdrawal. 5. Domestic, livestock and ecosystem water needs often do not get adequately addressed and may even suffer as a result of increased withdrawal. 6. Downstream impacts of intensive upstream water conservation are not being considered. 7. Costs at which the gains are achieved are
considered to be high. 8. People’s participation is limited to the watershed project implementation stage and 9. No/little building of institutions for long−term
collective management of resources.
TYPES OF WATERSHED
Watersheds could be classified into a number of groups depending upon the mode of classification. The common modes of categorization are the size, drainage, shape and land use pattern. The categorization could be based on the size of the stream or river, the point of interception of the stream or the river and the drainage density and its distribution. The All India Soil and Land Use Surveys (AIS&LUS) of the Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, has developed a system for watershed delineation like water resource region, basin, catchment, sub−catchment, and watershed. The usually accepted five levels of watershed delineation based on geographical area of the watershed are: 1. Macro watershed (> 50,000 Hect) 2. Sub−watershed (10,000 to 50,000 Hect) 3.Milli−watershed (1000 to10000 Hect) 4.Micro watershed (100 to 1000 Hect) 5.Mini watershed (1−100 Hect)
Hydrologically, the shape of the watershed is important because it controls the time taken for the runoff to concentrate at the outlet. Watersheds may also be categorized as hill or flat watersheds, humid or arid watersheds, red soil watershed or black soil watershed based on criteria like soil, slope, climate etc. Depending on the land use pattern, watershed could again be classified as highland watersheds, tribal settlements and watersheds in areas of settled cultivation.
Watershed management has emerged as a new paradigm for planning, development and management of land, water and biomass resources with a focus on social and environmental aspects following a participatory approach. Watershed Management is more a philosophy of comprehensive integrated approach to natural resources management. It aims at integration of social resources management with natural resource management. The approach is generally preventive, progressive, corrective and curative. Watershed management involves the judicious use of natural resource with active participation of
institutions, organizations, in harmony with the ecosystem.
WATERSHED DEVELOPMENT AND NABARD
Watershed Development Fund in Chhattisgarh has been created to treat 100 watershed projects at a cost of Rs. 60 crore with the assistance of National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD). The scheme has been in operation since 2004− 05 and the duration of the scheme is six years. Under Restructured National Watershed Development Project for Rainfed Areas (RNWDPRA) for XI Five Year Plan period (2007− 2012), it is proposed to take up 500 watersheds in 28 districts, where the area has less than 30% assured means of irrigation in arable lands and having slopes less than 8%. The pattern of assistance is in the ratio of 90:10 for the Centre and State respectively. The minimum area for a watershed is 500 Ha.
There is an urgent need for active research on the grassroots of watershed management. Many of the academic respondents commented that there has been so little comprehensive research on the watershed development that the whole debate over how they function is being steered by anecdotal information. There is, therefore, a serious knowledge gap on the process of local politicisation and local understanding of the watershed development system. NGOs involved in natural resource management activities, whether this is watershed, wasteland, water or forest based, have been relatively slow in forging working alliances with Gram Panchayats. Many NGOs work with watershed development simply because they cannot avoid doing so, but have no active programme or ideology of support.
1. Sharma, Bharat R, and Christopher A. Scott, (2005) Watershed Management Challenges:Introduction and Overview, Malhotra Publishing House, New Delhi. 2. Farrington J., Turton C., and James, A.J. Ed. "1999. Particpatory watershed development: Challenges for the Twenty− first Century, New Delhi: Oxford University Press. 3. India, Ministry of Agriculture, 1991 WARASA: National Watershed Development Project for Rainfed Areas (NWDPRA) Guidelines, 2nd Ed. New Delhi: Ministry of Agriculture. 4. India, Ministry of Rural Development, 1994 Guidelines for watershed development, New Delhi 5. National Commission on Farmers, Ministry
of Agriculture, New Delhi, 2011−12. 6. NRAA, Report, National Rain−fed Area Authority, Ministry of Agriculture, New Delhi, 2008. 7. Panchayati Raj and Natural Resources
Management, Report, 2006−12. 8. Planning Commission, Report of the Working Group on Natural Resources Management: Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007−2012), Planning Commission, Govt. of India, New Delhi, 2007 9. Sikka, Alok, K. 2002. Participatory watershed management for land and water care: Planning, impact evaluation, sustainability and future. In: Watershed Management: Issues and Policies for 21" Century.Associated Publishing Company, New Delhi, India. 10. Wani, Suhas P. and Ramakrishna, Y.S. ( 2005) Sustainable Management of Rainwater through Integrated Watershed Approach for Improved Rural Livelihoods, Malhotra Publishing House, New Delhi.