The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) has set up a new unit here to exclusively focus on implementing its water shed projects in southern districts of Tamil Nadu.

The Watershed Projects Unit will supervise 60 projects covering 80,000 hectares in Madurai, Theni, Dindigul, Ramnathapuram and Sivaganga districts at a total cost of nearly Rs. 22 crore, S. Natarajan, NABARD Deputy General Manager, who is heading the new unit, told ‘The Hindu’ on Friday.

The funds are being provided under Water Shed Development Fund, which was established in 1999 with a corpus of Rs. 200 crore. The water shed unit was commissioned on Friday by Chief General Manager of Tamil Nadu Regional Office, NABARD, R. Narayan. Under the Watershed scheme, half the project cost is given as grant with the rest given as loan by NABARD itself.

Villagers participation A total of 111 watershed projects were being supported by NABARD in 25 districts of the State with another 60 in different stages of processing.

Once sanctioned, this will take the total area covered to 1.9 lakh hectares, he said.

Ten projects are scheduled for completion by March. The projects would be implemented over a period of four to five years with the active participation of the local population. A committee is formed at village level with non-governmental organisations being included as facilitators, informed Mr. Natarajan.

Expedite implementation

R. Shankar Narayan, Assistant General Manager, NABARD, Madurai, said that this new unit would give focussed attention to the projects and also help expedite its implementation. The unit would also take up livelihood and capacity building projects.The unit would also help NABARD fine-tune its programme implementation strategies, he added.

The watershed project involved creating huge percolation ponds in government lands, similar but smaller-sized farm ponds in patta lands, installing field bunds, deepening of tanks, desilting of supply/delivery channels, creating ‘stone gully plug’ to arrest water flow and digging water absorption trenches.

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