The Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) will help farmers and public to harness natural resources to the optimum level, thereby increasing productivity and making farming and allied activities economically viable, according to District Collector J. Uma Maheswari.

Participating in the launch of IWMP to cover a total of 6,180 hectares in the Thogamalai block of Karur district at a cost of Rs. 7.41 crore Dr. Uma Maheswari said the Central and State governments shared the cost in the ratio of 90:10. She pointed out the district watershed development committee would monitor and coordinate the implementation of the project in the target areas. The scheme works would be implemented by the respective watershed committee through self help groups and user groups to be established under the programme.

At the panchayat level the grama sabha would monitor and coordinate the project, she pointed out. The programme adopted watershed approach to develop the area with the participation of the local community, she added.

The scheme would aim for the optimum utilization of natural resources including land, water, vegetation, people and livestock. In general the beneficiaries would contribute 10 per cent of the work cost but in the case of SC/ST habitats the contribution would be just five per cent. The project has been designed to cover nine micro watersheds in the Thogamalai block, including Thelungapatti (798 hectares), Chinnareddipatti (487), Pathiripatti (372), Kottapatti (275), Pillur (408), Vadaseri (1051), Puzhutheri (1070), Rachandar Thirumalai (575) and Kalladai (1,144 hectares) to a total area 6,180 hectares, the collector said.

Launching the Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) programme, she said PRA was a way of enabling locals to analyse their living conditions, to share the outcome and plan their activities under the project. They could plan for the development of arable, non-arable lands as also drainage in select watersheds. One important aspect of the programme is harnessing every drop of water and using that for irrigation and plantation purposes to create sustainable sources of income for the village community, she pointed out.

Ensuring overall development of rural areas through community participation and empowerment, SHGs, employment generation, poverty alleviation, development of human and economic resources , mitigating the adverse effects of extreme climatic conditions, restoring ecological balance by augmenting social and agro forestry were some of the aims of the programme, observed the Joint Director of Agriculture K. Jagadeesan. Encouraging the village communities on sustained action for the operation and maintenance of assets created under the project was of paramount importance, he said.

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