NABARD entered into watershed development activities through KfW-assisted pilot project of Indo German Watershed Development Programme in the year 1992 in Maharashtra, wherein participatory approach of watershed development was launched in India for the first-time. Subsequently, in order to demonstrate effectiveness of these interventions, Watershed Development Fund (WDF) was set up in NABARD in 1999-2000 with an initial corpus of ₹200 crore contributed equally by GoI and NABARD.
Cumulatively, as on 31 March 2020, against 3,295 watershed development projects sanctioned, 1,701 projects were completed successfully, while 314 projects were closed prematurely. Grant assistance committed under all programmes stood at ₹2,147.79 crore, out of which an amount of ₹1804.53 crore was released, covering total project area of 23.05 lakh ha.
Under Watershed Development Programme, NABARD has been implementing the following sub-programmes:
- Participatory Watershed Development Programmes under WDF
- Sustainable Development Plan (SDP) Programmes
- Climate-proofing in completed watershed projects
- Restoration and Rehabilitation of Degraded Soils for Food Security (Climate Proofing Soil Project) through KfW, Germany
- Springshed Development Programme in NER
- Integrated Water Management Scheme
Participatory Watershed Development Programmes under WDF
As on 31st March 2020, NABARD has implemented 742 participatory watershed development projects projects covered an area of 5.72 lakh ha in 18 states, with a finnacial commitment of ₹441 crore.
Sustainable Development Plan (SDP) Programmes
Building on the success of the initial watershed programme, NABARD has reoriented its approach towards sustainable development by making it holistic. Its approach encompasses technology transfer, agriculture extension, credit intensification, integrated pest management, integrated nutrient management, promotion of FPOs, need-based capacity building and leadership development of the watershed community and convergence of various centrally sponsored schemes, etc. SDPs were discontinued after 31 March 2018. The same is now covered under integrated watershed development programme being implemented with integration of climate proofing interventions in regular watershed projects with revised unit cost of ₹ 18,000 per hectare and ₹ 22,500 per hectare in plain and hilly/difficult areas, respectively. As on 31 March 2020, 466 SDPs have been sanctioned, with total financial outlay of ₹45.07 crore.
Climate-proofing in completed watershed projects
To reduce vulnerability of watershed community to the impact of climate change on production, productivity and livelihood of the farmers, NABARD is implementing climate change adaptation initiative with financial support from WDF. Core interventions under the initiative include additional soil and water conservation measures in the hot spot areas, soil fertility and productivity enhancement, promoting sustainable farming practices, risk mitigation and knowledge management,etc. During the year, 22 new climate proofing projects were sanctioned taking cumulative number of projects to 168 with total grant commitment of ₹76.18 crore.
Restoration and Rehabilitation of Degraded Soils for Food Security (Climate Proofing Soil Project) through KfW, Germany
The soil restoration programme for sustainable food security (Phase I) is being implemented by NABARD in five states namely, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Chhattisgarh with a grant support of €10 million (₹70 crore) from KfW, Germany over a period of four years from December 2015 to December 2019. It covers 32 districts and 123 completed watershed projects under WDF in the select states. The districts within the identified states were selected based on the Rainfed Area Priority Index (RAPI) developed by Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA, Hyderabad) and Indian Agricultural Statistics Research Institute (IASRI). As on 31 March 2020, 123 projects were under implementation with financial commitment of ₹60.02 crore, of which an amount of ₹59.64 crore was disbursed.
Under Phase II, the programme has been extended to Kerala (43 projects) and Jharkhand (12 projects) with financial support of € 5 million (₹35 crore) from KfW. An on 31 March 2020, 54 projects are under implementation with financial commitment of ₹30.28 crore, of which an amount of ₹4.40 crore was disbursed.
Springshed Development Programme in NER
The North Eastern Region has fragile ecosystem. The springsheds in this region are lifeline for the rural community. Springsheds provide water for both irrigation as well as for drinking. Due to destruction and degradation of natural resources, especially forests, and adverse impact of climate change over a period of time, these springsheds are getting dried up, causing severe water scarcity in the hilly region. Though the region receives high rainfall, there is no water security in the region. There is need for breaking the cycle of abundance and scarcity by conservation and storage of water through scientific springshed development approach.
In order to address the above issues, NABARD launched an innovative and integrated springshed based participatory watershed development programme in the NER, including Sikkim, in January 2017, on a pilot basis with financial support from WDF. The programme’s twin objectives are (i) to reduce drinking water scarcity; and (ii) to promote off-season farming for sustainable livelihood to the rural community. As on 31 March 2020, 67 spring-shed development projects have been sanctioned in NER (including Sikkim) and other hilly states.
Integrated Water Management Scheme in the water campaign villages
In order to consolidate the outcomes of the water conservation campaign implemented by NABARD during March 2017 in 1,01,569 villages across 21 major states and to carry forward the water agenda more aggressively for mitigating the water scarcity situations and improving agricultural productivity in select vulnerable villages, integrated water management scheme through watershed approach was launched during 2018-19 across 50 districts, including 40 aspirational districts, covering 250 villages across 20 states with financial support of ₹35.00 crore (₹33.50 crore under WDF for 48 districts in 19 states and ₹1.50 crore from FSPF for 2 districts in Punjab state)
The scheme has been implemented to address the core issue of increasing credit absorption capacity of the farmers in dryland/rainfed areas and other water scarcity areas. Further, under the scheme, all issues of conservation of natural resources, efficient usage of the conserved resources, credit intensification for financing of irrigation efficient technologies like drip, sprinkler, plastic mulching, piped water distribution, soil fertility and productivity enhancement, promotion of FPOs, convergence with government schemes, etc., will be addressed through holistic and integrated approach. As on 31 March 2020, 205 IWMS projects had been sanctioned involving total financial outlay of ₹26.43 crore.