Water conservation: In parched Rajasthan, rainwater harvesting scheme ignites new hope

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Udaipur | Updated: September 5, 2016 9:35:12 AM

Within six months of the launch of the Mukhya Mantri Jal Swavalamban Abhiyan (MJSA) by the Rajasthan government, water has begun to overflow at the anicut built in Charwa village of the Udaipur district.

WaterAccording to Sriram Vedire, chairperson of the Rajasthan River Basin and Water Resources Planning Authority, and the advisor to the water resources ministry, the focus had been to preserve rainwater through scientific methods by building low-cost structures starting from base of the mountains.

Within six months of the launch of the Mukhya Mantri Jal Swavalamban Abhiyan (MJSA) by the Rajasthan government, water has begun to overflow at the anicut built in Charwa village of the Udaipur district.

More than 93,000 low-cost water harvesting structures – contour trenches, mini percolation tank, field bundings, anicuts and ponds – have been constructed across 3,529 villages in the state since the launch of the first phase of the MJSA, one of the biggest water conservation initiatives in the driest state of the country.

According to Sriram Vedire, chairperson of the Rajasthan River Basin and Water Resources Planning Authority, and the advisor to the water resources ministry, the focus had been to preserve rainwater through scientific methods by building low-cost structures starting from base of the mountains. Planting of trees has also been carried out on a large scale.

These structures were set up with an estimated cost of Rs 1,700 crore, mostly sourced from allocations under various existing schemes – Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (24%), Integrated Watershed Management Programme (32%), un-tied funds allocated for MJSA (32%) and other schemes.

Besides these structures, 25 lakh trees have been planted and they are being taken care of by respective departments as well as common people.

More than Rs 55 crore was donated by corporates such as SABMiller and Hindustan Zinc among others, trusts and individuals during the first phase of the MJSA.

“The key challenge we could overcome was to carry out work using water budgeting-based scientific planning and Geo tagging of each work site. Technical feasibility and economical viability of each structure were checked by using GIS and remote sensing technologies along with indigenous knowledge of communities,” Vedire told FE.

All these structures were constructed prior to the onset of monsoon. What has come as a boost to this mega initiative is 37% excess monsoon rainfall so far this year.

In the second phase of the MJSA, similar structures will be created across more than 4,200 villages with an estimated expenditure of Rs 2,000-2,200 crore.

Avichal Chaturvedi, CEO of the zila parisad, said the real impact of the MJSA would be seen in the next rabi season, when farmers need more soil moisture for sowing crops.

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