Diversified conglomerate, ITC Limited has entered into a partnership with the Government of Karnataka to execute a Watershed Development Programme covering over 1 million acres and 100 watersheds across the State.

The agreement between ITC’s Social Investments programme, Mission Sunehra Kal , and the Karnataka Watershed Development Department, earlier this month, will be in effect for three years. It is part of the State’s “Watershed Development for Drought Proofing” programme which aims at covering 1.16-million acres of watershed area in 29 districts.

ITC will create a consortium of experts to train government officials to apply the company’s drought proofing framework for planning, implementation and monitoring of the programme, it said in a press release. The company will meet the cost of experts, training, capacity building and value addition for drought proofing; while the government will bear the cost of the drought proofing activities.

Project committee

A project management committee, with the Commissioner of the Watershed Development Department as Chairperson and ITC as Convenor, will oversee the functioning of the project, the release added.

ITC’s Integrated Watershed Development initiative cumulatively covers over 1.1 million acres in 37 districts in 14 States. Nearly 20,400 rainwater harvesting structures have created potential freshwater storage capacity of 3.68 million kilolitres, which is over three times the net water consumed by ITC’s operations. To enable scaling up of its programmes, ITC has entered into 44 public-private-people partnerships in watershed development with various governments and NABARD. ITC’s interventions to promote water use efficiency in agriculture has led to water savings of 20-45 per cent in crops such as wheat, rice, sugarcane and banana.

Commenting on the partnership, Ashesh Ambasta, Executive Vice-President & Head Social Investments, ITC Limited said: “For years, the company has been at the forefront of water stewardship programmes in India and our efforts have been focussed on scaling up integrated watershed development projects across different States. Our initiatives are aligned with government missions like Jal Shakti Abhiyan and More-Crop-Per-Drop.”