PM Modi launches Atal Bhujal Scheme for efficient groundwater management in 7 States

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on December 25, 2019

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. File photo   -  PTI

Modi said schemes under the yojana would be formulated and executed locally by panchayat level committees

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday launched a new project for improving groundwater management in 8,350 village in seven States where groundwater levels are critically low. The Rs 6,000-crore, five-year-long project will be named after former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, whose 95th birth anniversary fell on Wednesday.

These villages are in 78 districts in the States of Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. It is being designed with the principal objective of strengthening the institutional framework for participatory groundwater management and bringing about behaviuoral changes at the community level for sustainable groundwater resource management.

Launched in the presence of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Modi said schemes under the yojana would be formulated and executed locally by panchayat level committees. He called for giving 50 per cent representation in these committees to women saying that this would help implement them better as women suffer the most from water scarcity.

Atal Tunnel

The Prime Minister also used the occasion to name 8.8-kilometre long tunnel built below the Rohtang Pass in Himachal Pradesh as Atal Tunnel. The new tunnel is expected to reduce the distance between Manali in Himachal Pradesh and Leh in Ladakh Union Territory by 46 kilometres.

The Prime Minister also requested the people of every village to make a water action plan and create a water fund. Farmers should make a water budget where groundwater is very low.To incentivise gram panchayats that do better water management, he said a provision has been made in the yojana, to give more allocation to better performing gram panchayats.

Modi urged farmers in these areas to switch over to crops which use less water helping its conservation. He also wanted start-ups to come up with technology solutions to ensure minimal use of water for various needs.

In last 70 years, only 3 crore out of a total of 18 crore rural households in the country have access to piped water supply, Modi said adding that his government has set the target to deliver clean drinking water through pipes to the rest 15 crore homes in the next five years under a recently-launched Jal Jeevan Mission.

Rs 6,000 crore outlay

As it is planned, the outlay of Rs 6,000 crore would be spread over five years and 50 per cent of the funding would be in the form of World Bank loan to be repaid by the Centre. The remaining 50 per cent of the funds would be given to the State governments through Central Assistance from regular budgetary support. Both components will be passed on to the States as grants, an official statement said.

The government also released operational guidelines for Jal Jeevan Mission. The estimated cost of the mission is around Rs 3.60 lakh crore, of which the Central share would be around Rs 2.08 lakh crore. While the Centre would bear 100 per cent cost of the project in Union Territories, 90 per cent of the Himalayan and Northeastern States, the Central share for other States would be 50 per cent.

Published on December 25, 2019

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