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Soil and Water Conservation

Soil and water conservation measures are one of the essential inputs for increasing agricultural output in the country. These programmes were first launched during the First Plan. From the very beginning, emphasis has been on development of technology for problem identification, enactment of appropriate legislation and constitution of policy coordination bodies. While conceptual framework of soil and water conservation activities has been changed, concept of programmes has undergone considerable revision during successive Five-Year Plans.

The Centrally-Sponsored Scheme of Soil Conservation in the catchments of River Valley Project (RVP) was started in the Third Five-Year Plan. Subsequently, another scheme of Flood Prone Rivers (FPR) was started in the Sixth Five-Year Plan keeping in view the magnitude of floods in 1978. Both the schemes were clubbed together during the Nineth Five-Year Plan on recommendation of Expenditure Finance Committee and were subsumed under Macro Management Mode since November 2000. Under the programme for the Catchment Management of River Valley Projects and Flood Prone Rivers, 53 Catchments are covered, spread over in 27 States. The total Catchment area is 141 million ha. with Priority Area needing urgent treatment in 28 million ha. Out of this 6.08 76 India 2007 million. ha. have been treated till 2004-05 with an expenditure of Rs.1894 crore. During 2005-06 an area of 0.17 million ha. have been treated with an expenditure of Rs.145 crore.

A Centrally-Sponsored Scheme of Reclamation of Alkali Soil was taken up in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh during the Seventh Five Year Plan. During the Nineth Plan, extension of the Scheme to all other States of India was approved where alkali soil problems exist as per scientific parameters. The Scheme aims at improving physical conditions and productivity status of alkali soils for restoring optimum crop production. The major components of the scheme include, assured irrigation water on farm development works like land leveling, bunding and ploughing, agriculture, community drainage system, application of soil amendment organic manures, etc. An area of 0.66 million ha out of 3.5 million ha., of alkali land has been reclaimed till the end of 2004-05 in the country. The Scheme at present stands subsumed within the Macro Management Scheme. During 2005-06 an area of 0.03 million ha have been reclaimed with an expenditure of Rs.9.29 crore.

The Scheme of Watershed Development Project in Shifting Cultivation Areas was launched in seven North-Eastern States during the Eighth Plan from 1994-95 with 100 per cent Central assistance to the State Plan. The Scheme aims at overall development of jhum areas on watershed basis. During the Eighth Plan an amount of Rs.31.51 crore was spent by the States of north-east region and 0.67 lakh ha. area was treated through treatment packages. During the Nineth Plan, 1.57 lakh ha. have been treated with an expenditure of Rs.82 crore.

The new guidelines of the scheme on the basis of new watershed to common approach has been effective from November 2000 in the revised cost norms of Rs.10,000 per ha. on net treatable area basis with additional activities and improved institutional mechanism. During the Tenth Plan, an area of 0.89 lakh ha. has been treated with an expenditure of Rs.88.32 crore up to end of 2005-06.

Source: National Portal Content Management Team, Reviewed on: 07-01-2011