ANDHRA PRADESH

Jalachaitanyam a great success: CM

Hyderabad April 15. The Chief Minister, N. Chandababu Naidu, has called the 10-day Jalachaitanyam which concluded yesterday, a "grand success'' with "overwhelming'' response from people, and come out with a series of measures for continuing the "spirit of the water movement.''

The measures announced by him at a press conference here this evening included a decision to make water-harvesting structures and certain percentage of tree-plantation mandatory for clearing the building layout plans by municipal bodies, replacement of water-intensive paddy with ID over an extent of 2.5 lakhs acres for the time being with a "bit of insistence'' instead of leaving the option to farmers, preparation of satellite maps for each village pinpointing the exact sites where recharge structures were to be taken such as check-dams, and launching of an integrated portal giving water information covering all the 22,000 panchayats and towns/cities.

Harvesting structures and vegetation is to be insisted under the AP Land, Water and Tree Act. The Chief Minister referred to severity of the drought of late, and said "there is rice in every village.'' He asked the competent authorities to serve notices on the secretary and sarpanch if a particular gram panchayat failed to spend at least 25 per cent of the grains given under SJRY. They would be suspended depending on further enquiries and the panchayats would be run by the next layer of authority, the vice-presidents.

Giving an update of the 10-day programme, Mr Naidu said its success was such that a record number of 24,242 gram sabhas were held with attendance going up to 41.41 per cent. Because of the awakening, farmers in some out of the 18 districts toured by him during the programme came to the conclusion that they could changeover to irrigated dry crops and that double the yield is certain if the water utilisation is reduced by half, which had occurred this year in Krishna and East Godavari districts where the crops, in fact, were "bumper'' yields this year.

Owing to this, he said they were drawing up advance schedules for the next kharif season with the repair of sluices, desilting, etc. With check-dams and other structures already existing, high results are expected. Asked about the drinking water availability, he said 14,000 borewells had gone dry in the State due to the heat and where there was nil water, agricultural borewells were taken on payment. Mr. Chandrababu Naidu said the Government is constituting committees at panchayat, divisional, basin and sub-basin levels for monitoring groundwater level with the help of Pizometers to be erected at every village, and thus for carrying on Jalachaitanyam movement with periodic reviews. Officers were asked to visit villages once in three days, at least up to the end of summer. Mr. Naidu said water is everybody's concern as it is at the heart of economic development causing poverty or prosperity and appealed to the people and political parties to extend cooperation to the Government in carrying the programme forward.

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