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Watershed Development: WDC-PMKSY 2.0 Paves the Way for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Prosperity

As the WDC-PMKSY 2.0 continues to make strides in sustainable watershed development, it stands as a beacon for integrated, community-driven initiatives that address environmental challenges while fostering agricultural growth and rural prosperity.

Shivam Dwivedi
Watershed Development: WDC-PMKSY 2.0 Paves the Way for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (Photo Source: ICRISAT)
Watershed Development: WDC-PMKSY 2.0 Paves the Way for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (Photo Source: ICRISAT)

In a bid to address the critical issues of land degradation, soil erosion, water scarcity, and climatic uncertainties, the Watershed Development Component of Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (WDC-PMKSY) has emerged as a pivotal solution.

The program has not only contributed significantly to enhancing agricultural production and productivity but has also played a crucial role in poverty reduction and livelihood improvement, particularly in rural areas. Moreover, it has effectively mitigated the adverse effects of droughts and promoted the restoration of ecological balance in the long run.

Since its inception, the WDC-PMKSY has witnessed commendable progress, with 6382 projects implemented between 2009-10 and 2014-15, funded by the Department of Land Resources (DoLR). Over the period from 2014-15 to 2021-22, the initiative has led to the creation or rejuvenation of 7.65 lakh water harvesting structures, bringing an additional 16.41 lakh hectares under protective irrigation. Impressively, 36.34 lakh farmers have benefited from the program. The positive impact extends to afforestation, with approximately 1.63 lakh hectares under plantation, and the generation of 388.66 lakh man-days from 2018-19 to 2021-22.

End-line evaluation reports of completed WDC-PMKSY projects reveal a substantial improvement in groundwater table levels, increased productivity, enhanced vegetative cover, and improved livelihood opportunities and household incomes in the watershed project areas.

Recognizing the success and importance of the program, the Government of India has approved the continuation of the initiative as WDC-PMKSY 2.0 for the period 2021-22 to 2025-26. With a physical target of 49.5 lakh hectares and an indicative financial outlay of Rs. 8,134 crore as the central share, the program aims to build on past achievements. As of now, the DoLR has sanctioned 1149 projects to 28 states and 2 Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. The release of the central share of Rs. 2912.93 crore to states and UTs underscores the government's commitment to sustainable watershed development.

Under WDC-PMKSY 2.0, projects adhere to the Guidelines for New Generation Watershed Projects, with a special focus on Spring Shed Management. This novel approach recognizes spring shed management as a new activity, aiming to mitigate spring water depletion. The restoration of spring sheds, coupled with landscape restoration initiatives, is expected to yield co-benefits such as capacity building and an improved quality of life.

In the current phase of WDC-PMKSY 2.0, 2573 springs have been identified by 15 states and UTs for rejuvenation and development in watershed project areas across 90 districts. Out of these, 800 springs have been prioritized for completion by March 2024, highlighting the program's commitment to sustainable water resource management.

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