With the water crisis worsening in the desert State of Rajasthan, the State government is now focusing on community-based water management solutions instead of predominantly engineering—based ones.

In its recently announced water policy, the State government has shifted its focus towards community—level empowerment and responsibility for water management under the umbrella process of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

The government has chosen nine blocks - three each in Jodhpur, Nagaur and Churu districts - to implement a pilot project.

“Ground water situation is quite alarming in the State with only 30 water blocks out of total 237 left in safe zone.

Since water is limited, there is a need to manage water very intelligently which is not possible without active and direct involvement of citizens,” N. S. Satsangi, Chief Engineer (Quality Control and External Aided Projects), State Water Resource Planning Department, told PTI here.

“Every measure to educate people and ensure their participation in water conservation and water management will be taken across the State,” he said.

For this, initially, Water User Groups (WUG) of 20 local people each will be formed at every Gram Sabha level.

WUG members will be trained for water management by NGOs.

“After their capacity building, the groups will further educate and make aware people and bear responsibility of water management in their respective areas,” he said.

Mr. Satsangi said that as a pilot project, capacity building programmes will be conducted through a Delhi-based NGO in nine blocks three each in Jodhpur, Nagaur and Churu districts which are likely to start by the end of this month.

Executive Members of WUGs will be chosen by democratic means, with fair representation by large and small scale stakeholders, including women.

Community-level assistance will be provided by Panchayti Raj Institutions to the WUGs to initiate, plan and execute water related solutions while other concerning departments will supply water related technical data, guidelines, information etc. to these groups, he said.

The Chief Engineer said the awareness programmes, capacity building and other related activities would be conducted at a fast pace with reinstatement of funds from the European Union.

European Union Ambassador Daniele Smadja had recently announced reinstatement of a grant of Rs. 450 crore for water- related projects in the State.