Scrapping Of Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyan
- Recently, the Maharashtra Government scrapped the flagship water conservation project-Jalyukta Shivar.
Reasons for Scrapping the Project
- Corruption: One of the main corruption charges levied against the previous government in Maharashtra was against the Jalyukta Shivar project. The then CM had announced completion of 10,094 tasks in January, 2019. But in March, charges of discrepancies were levelled against 1,300 tasks carried out under the Jalyukta Shivar scheme, which the then government later accepted.
- Improper Fund Allocation: Another reason is improper fund allocation during the final leg of the scheme which led to the substandard quality of work being carried out during the last three years.
- Niti Aayog Report: According to the NITI Aayog’s Composite Water Management Index-2019, Maharashtra’s performance in preserving existing water sources, restoring encroached water bodies, water distribution through canals and irrigation management has worsened since 2015. Despite the Jalyukta Shivar programme, the state has performed poorly in the groundwater recharge. This emboldened government’s decision to scrap the project.
- Launched in December 2014 after Maharashtra experienced consecutive droughts. The project was aimed at rolling out measures that could potentially mitigate water scarcity in the most drought-prone villages in a systematic manner.
- To arrest maximum runoff in the village area
- To create Decentralized Water Bodies
- To increase the Groundwater Level in Drought areas
- Rejuvenation of the water storage capacity of various existing structures like Village Tank, Percolation Tank Cement Nalla Bandh (CNB) through repairs and renovations
- To increase storage capacity of water bodies by removing silt through people’s participation.
- To sensitize the concept of Water Budgeting
Need for Jalyukta Shivar
- Since 2014, hundreds of villages in Marathwada, Madhya Maharashtra and Vidarbha have experienced droughts for consecutive years.
- About 82 per cent area of Maharashtra falls is rainfed sector while 52 per cent of area is drought prone. This, when coupled with natural rainfall variability and long dry spells during the monsoons, severely hampers agricultural activities.
- The project was targeted at strengthening and streamlining existing water resources like canals, bunds and ponds by arresting maximum run-off rainwater during monsoon.
- To widen and deepen natural water streams and connect them to nearby water storage facilities like earthen or concrete check-dams was proposed.
Success of Jalyukta Shivar
- By January 2019, the scheme had transformed 16,000 drought-prone villages of Maharashtra. The irrigation cover had been increased by 34 lakh hectares. In the process, thereby, increasing the crop yield each year, particularly the kharif crops. Until mid-2019, interventions resulted in stocking of water measuring 24 lakh trillion cubic metres.
- Villages that gained called the scheme a game changer, but critics raised issues like sustainability, the contractor-based model and even the lack of data gathering to show the utility of the scheme while the state-run ground water and survey development agency had submitted a report, saying water levels in 31,000 villages had drastically gone down.
Future of Water Conservation in Maharashtra
- Geologists and hydrologists, who worked on implementing the project, shared similar views and hailed Jalyukta Shivar programme. This was mainly due to the interventions undertaken in the existing water reserves, planned de-silting activities, among many others.
- However, experts agreed that the scheme was not appropriately implemented. Now with Jalyukta Shivar no longer in existence, focused efforts of the past five years, in most likelihood, will go down the drain unless a similar scheme is introduced.
- With rainfall variations getting more pronounced, in addition to depleting groundwater reserves, the state will need concrete interventions to tackle its future water requirements.