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National Watershed Development Programme

The Department of Land Resources in the Ministry of Rural Development is administering three area-based watershed programmes for development of wastelands/degraded lands namely Drought Prone Areas Programmes (DPAP), Desert Development Programme (DDP) and Integrated Wastelands Development Programme (IWDP) to check the diminishing productivity of wasteland and loss of natural resources.

The DPAP was launched in 1973-74 to tackle the special problems faced by those areas that are constantly afflicted by drought conditions. Presently, 972 blocks of 195 districts in 16 States are covered under the Programme. DDP was launched in 1977-78 to mitigate the adverse effects of desertification. Presently, 235 blocks of 40 districts in 7 States are covered under the Programme. IWDP has been under implementation since 1989-90. The projects under the IWDP are generally sanctioned in areas that are not covered under DDP or DPAP.

Since 1 April 1995, these three programmes are being implemented on the basis of Common Guidelines for Watershed Development. Details of projects sanctioned and funds released from 1995-96 to 2007-2008 are as under:

Details of projects sanctioned and funds released from 1995-96 to 2007-2008
Name of Scheme No. of project sanctioned Area covered (in lakh ha.) Total funds released by Centre (Rs. in crores)
DPAP 27439 130.20 2837.81
DDP 15746 78.73 2103.23
IWDP 1877 107.0 2797.56
Grand Total 45062 322.93 7738.60

The projects under DPAP and DDP are sanctioned for 500 ha. each while the IWDP projects cover an area of 5000-6000 ha. The cost norms for all the three schemes have been revised to Rs.6000 per ha. Under DPAP and DDP, it is shared between the Centre and the States in ratio of 75:25. In case of IWDP, the cost sharing between the Centre and State Governments is in the ratio of 11:1.

Funds are released in seven installments, six installments at the rate of 15 per cent and the last installment at the rate of 10 per cent. The first installment is released along with the initial sanction-order and subsequent installments on receipt of utilization for 50 per cent of the available funds as well as the following documents:

  • Quarterly Progress Reports
  • Utilisation Certificates
  • The Audited Statement of Accounts for the previous years and
  • Evidence of satisfactory completion of institutional arrangements

Projects are implemented by District Rural Development Agencies/Zilla Parishads (DRDAs/ZPs) through Project Implementing Agencies (PIAs). PIAs could be a Line Department (of the State Government), Panchayati Raj Institutions or a reputed NGO. One PIA normally handles 10-12 watershed projects covering an area of about 5000-6000 hectares. The PIA is required to maintain a technical team of 4 experts called Watershed Development Team (WDT) and individual projects (500 hectares) are planned and executed by the local people living in the watershed area called the Watershed Association (WA) through an elected body called Watershed Committee (WC).

The Department of Land Resources has brought out a new initiative called Hariyali with an objective of empowering PRIs both financially and administratively in implementation of Watershed Development Programmes. Under this initiative, all ongoing area development programmes namely, Integrated Wastelands Development Programme (IWDP), Drought Prone Areas Programme (DPAP) and Desert Development Programme (DDP) are to be implemented through the PRIs. New projects under the aforesaid area development programmes are being implemented in accordance with the guidelines for Hariyali from 1 April 2003. Projects sanctioned prior to this date shall continue to be implemented as per the Watershed Development Guidelines of 2001.

In the new arrangement, Gram Panchayats shall implement projects under overall supervision and guidance of Project Implementation Agencies (PIAs). An intermediate panchayat may be the PIA for all the projects sanctioned to a particular Block/Taluka. In case, these Panchayats are not adequately empowered, then the Zilla Panchayat can either act as PIA itself or may appoint a suitable Line Department like Agriculture, Forestry /Social Forestry, Soil Conservation, etc., or an Agency of the State Government/ University/Institute as PIA. Failing these options, the ZP/DRDA may consider appointing a reputed Non-Government Organization (NGO) in the district with adequate experience and expertise in the implementation of watershed projects or related area development works as the PIA after thoroughly examining their credentials.

The Project Implementing Agency (PIA) will provide necessary technical guidance to the Gram Panchayat for preparation of development plans for the watershed through Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) exercise, undertake community organisation and training for the village communities, supervise watershed development activities, inspect and authenticate project accounts.

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