Sliver Jubilee

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Integrating watershed management and participatory groundwater management - piloting groundwater management and governance through the Neeranchal Program (Govt.–UNDP)

The Planning Commission of India in its Approach Paper to the 12th Five Year Plan highlighted the need for a paradigm shift in groundwater management, focusing on a participatory approach to sustainable management of groundwater. Taking this priority ahead, in a recent workshop on Participatory Groundwater Management (PGWM), the Planning Commission highlighted the potential for facilitating improved groundwater management through key rural development programmes like Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP), Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) and the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP). Towards this objective, and as proposed by the Planning Commission, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) along with Advanced Center for Water Resources Development and Management (ACWADAM), Pune worked together to develop a proposal.

Objectives

  • This is a project to be implemented over a total period of five years as collaboration between the Department of Land Resources (Integrated Watershed Management Programme - Neeranchal) and UNDP. UNDP has committed a sum of USD 750,000 (around INR 4.5 crores) for the first stage to be implemented over a period of three and a half years (42 months). The second stage will be implemented over one and a half years (18 months).
  • The project will pilot participatory groundwater management at scales of watersheds in the Neeranchal-supported IWMP Programme in nine districts over a period of five years. The pilots will aim to develop various templates and tools which shall be used by the community to manage groundwater to enable (a) drinking water security and (b) sustained improvements in agricultural yields. The pilot will improve the effectiveness of Neeranchal by (a) reviewing the DPR prepared by the Project Implementing Agency (PIA)/Watershed Committee (WC) on aspects pertaining to water harvesting structures to achieve the desired outcomes. Necessary modifications to the DPRs would be facilitated through this project. (b) Supporting the WC and the village community to utilize groundwater resources in a sustainable, equitable and efficient manner.
  • Further, the pilot will work closely with the communities to understand the water resources. This assessment will complement National Institute of Hydrology (NIH) to generate methodologies for groundwater assessment, in addition to also complementing the aquifer mapping project implemented by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB). The pilot will generate information on groundwater assessment at a scale and in a form that will be useful to communities which are dependent on groundwater for drinking, irrigation and other uses.
  • The pilots will also generate methodologies on groundwater management. These may include groundwater management protocols adopted by the Watershed Committee and farmers’ groups, resolutions adopted by the Gram Sabha and the Gram Panchayat, systems of monitoring and reporting on groundwater adopted by the village community and the imposition of restrictions on groundwater use by the community to safeguard its priorities. The pilots may also draw upon legal provisions set forth in respective State Groundwater Acts, if any.
  • The pilots as mentioned are located in different agro-climatic zones and geo-hydrological conditions, the outcomes shall be used for the up-scaling while implementing the IWMP project.

The project will adopt the principles of participatory groundwater management, which include the following:

  • Groundwater is a Common Pool Resource
  • Principles and processes of groundwater management need to integrate different uses like drinking water and irrigation
  • Issues regarding groundwater resources are more clearly defined through an understanding of the aquifer and its properties
  • The minimum unit of management should be at least a micro watershed to begin with, and maximum unit could be the regional aquifer system
  • Planning, management and monitoring will be executed by the community with support from appropriate, technically competent agencies
  • Groundwater management should be based on a combination of local knowledge and formal science

BIRDS’ being the APFAMGS nodal agency was invited to lead the program on Participatory groundwater management and also to implement the program in chittor district in AP and Mayurbhanj in Odisha states

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