Atal Bhujal Yojanaa critical initiative

Atal Bhujal Yojanaa critical initiative

The launch of the Atal Bhujal Yojana by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week marks an important official initiative for management, optimal use and preservation of the country’s groundwater resources. It is a national programme but is initially being implemented in Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, which are badly water-stressed. It will cover 8,350 villages in 78 districts. The Prime Minister has expressed his personal commitment to the programme. It may be seen as complementing the Union environment ministry’s earlier proposal for a multi-decadal action plan to regulate groundwater use. Groundwater is the most important source of drinking water in the country, contributing 85% of the needs in rural areas and 60% in urban areas. Over 60% of the irrigation water requirement is also met by underground sources. But the water table is steadily shrinking and the availability of water is decreasing fast. 

The programme aims to arrest the falling water tables and to reduce the dependence on groundwater through the promotion of rainwater harvesting, aquifer recharge and other sustainable practices. Such practices have shown good results in areas where they were implemented. But these were undertaken in different areas by individuals and organisations. They need to become movements involving entire communities over large areas. The Atal Yojana rightly aims at community participation at the grassroots level and will have various projects which will be formulated and implemented locally by panchayat committees. There is an incentive scheme for panchayats to perform competitively under the programme. Conservation and usage plans will have to be drawn up at the level of villages, and budgets and crop choices have to be decided accordingly. It is important for women to have an important role in the planning and implementation of the scheme at the local level because they suffer the most because of water distress. 

The need for efficient management of water is clear. India has 15% of the world’s population but only 4% of its water resources. There is already a crisis, and it is set to worsen with the population growth and water resources shrinking. The best technologies should be put in service in mapping the country’s water resources, utilising them efficiently and economically and in preventing misuse. The success of the programme lies in growing beyond an official programme and becoming a people’s movement. That will also involve changing people’s attitudes and habits and many prevalent practices, because the idea of water as a limited resource is yet to sink in. 

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
GET IT
Comments (+)