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Secretary, Department of Water Resources, Chairs Meeting of the National Level Steering Committee of Atal Bhujal Yojana

Committee Reviews Overall Progress of the Scheme & Directs States to Expedite Implementation

Atal Bhujal Yojana Is The Only Program Targeting Demand Side Groundwater Management, Focusing On Community Behavioural Change: Secretary, DoWR

The Secretary, Department of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation (DoWR, RD & GR), Ministry of Jal Shakti, Ms. Debashree Mukherjee chaired the fifth meeting of the National Level Steering Committee (NLSC) of Atal Bhujal Yojana and the Wrap up of the World Bank Mission in New Delhi today. The committee reviewed the overall progress of the scheme and directed the States to expedite all the activities including procurement as well as convergence for the implementation of the interventions proposed under Water Security Plans (WSPs). Atal Bhujal Yojana aims to demonstrate community-led sustainable ground water management which can be taken to scale. Objective of the Scheme is to improve the management of groundwater resources in select water stressed areas in identified states viz. Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

State-wise presentations, enumerating impacts with evidence on “Emerging Impacts of the Program” were presented by all States. The highlights included improvement in ground water level and storages; involvement of local people, particularly women in utilization of equipment for monitoring of both water level and quality; creating sense of ownership and community-led ground water management, etc. The findings of the World Bank review mission conducted in all the Seven States were presented by the Task Team Leader from the World Bank. The gaps in the areas of scheme implementation and related concerns were discussed for improvement and effective implementation of the scheme in all the participating States. The senior officers from the participating States, members of NLSC, representatives from various Ministries/Departments, officers of the World Bank and NPMU attended the meeting.

The Secretary, DoWR, RD & GR, Ms. Debashree Mukherjee stated that there are several projects in our country for water security and management, however, Atal Bhujal Yojana is the only program targeting demand side groundwater management, focusing on behavioral change of the community. She emphasized on the importance of various equipment installed under Atal Bhujal Yojana which are being utilized to make the communities aware of the ground water situation. This will help the community manage their ground water resources, improve demand side measures and start preparing water budgets in the gram panchayats. The Secretary highlighted the fact that allocation under Atal Bhujal Yojana is fungible and better performing States will get more share of incentive. She also emphasized that since Atal Bhujal Yojana is a convergence-oriented program, the Chief Secretaries should regularly monitor the progress of the schemes in their States for effective implementation.

Ms. Mukherjee asserted that strengthening of Institutions, partner agencies and capacity building of the civil society should also be given due importance. Since communities are at the forefront in this scheme, importance of capacity building of the communities was emphasized upon. The Secretary underscored the importance of assessment of quality of the trainings being provided at the Gram Panchayat level. She also requested all participating States to integrate WSPs in the Gram Panchayat Development Plans (GPDPs). This integration will provide sustainability to the approach followed by the scheme even after completion of time period. She also directed the States to document the best practices being implemented under the scheme.

The Joint Secretary and National Project Coordinator for Atal Bhujal Yojana, Shri Subodh Yadav, in his opening remarks earlier, highlighted that the scheme is in the fourth year of implementation and the remaining one and a half years shall be optimally utilized for improvement in performance of the participating States. He also emphasized that the community participation is the fundamental aspect of the scheme which shall be prioritized.