The Rajasthan government's flagship water conservation programme – Jal Swavalamban Abhiyan (JSA) – has turned out to be a success in Pratapgarh district, where the groundwater table has increased, green agricultural fields have expanded and no tankers with drinking water had to be sent to as many as 94 villages this year.
NGT hails efforts
The National Green Tribunal lauded the efforts made under the programme at its regional conference on environment in Bhopal on Sunday.
In the Bhopal declaration, the JSA was praised as an initiative which would make every village of the State self-reliant in water by using scientific tools for rejuvenating traditional water bodies.
Pratapgarh Collector Neha Giri said on Tuesday that the JSA had proved to be a blessing after good rain in the water-starved Kanthal region of the district, where special arrangements had to be made till last year for the supply of drinking water.
“Not a single water tanker was sent to any of the 94 villages in five blocks where water conservation works were taken up,” said Ms. Giri. In contrast, 1,337 tankers were sent during the last financial year.
The JSA works have also led to an increase by 10% to 15% in the soybean crop area and 15% to 20% in the wheat crop area.
The groundwater table in Pratapgarh has registered an increase by 0.30 metres. Besides, only 18% of the handpumps in the district dried up this year against 24% in the previous year.
Ms. Giri pointed out that the structures such as anicuts, staggered trenches and mud walls were put up with people's participation during the implementation of JSA. For the second phase of the programme, 2,886 works have been sanctioned in 70 villages, most of which have already been completed and the new structures are full to the brim with rainwater.
The NGT's Bhopal declaration has described the JSA as a massive climate change adaptation programme which had elicited public participation and converged the activities of nine government departments.
“Similar participation should be encouraged by other States for protection and conservation of natural water bodies and creation of new water conservation structures,” stated the declaration.
Works under the JSA's first phase were undertaken all over Rajasthan at an expenditure of Rs. 1,300 crore.
Rajasthan River Basin Authority chairperson Sriram Vedire said the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests had agreed to fund a JSA pilot project in Banswara from the National Adaptation Fund for Climate Change. Discussions were under way with the Ministry for getting the support for the JSA's future phases from the Green Climate Fund, he said.