With Haryana facing rapid depletion of groundwater, the state government has now embarked on a mission to check the threat 14 of the 22 districts in the next four years under the Atal Bhujal Yojana.
A participatory groundwater management scheme, the Yojana is supported by the central government and the World Bank. Haryana will get financial aid of Rs 678 crore to implement the scheme in four years. It will be implemented in Yamunanagar, Kurukshetra, Kaithal, Karnal, Panipat, Fatehabad, Sirsa, Bhiwani, Charkhi Dadri, Mahendragarh, Rewari, Faridabad, Gurgaon and Palwal. The speed of groundwater depletion in these districts is higher than the national average, say officials.
Haryana Additional Chief Secretary Devender Singh says: “Atal Bhujal Yojana aims to improve groundwater management in priority areas through community participation. As many as 1,669 gram panchayats of 36 blocks are also part of these 14 districts.”
These 36 blocks have been marked as groundwater stressed.
Referring to a latest report of NASA, Haryana Project Director (Irrigation) Satbir Singh Kadian says, “As per the report, the groundwater level depletes by one metre in every three years in India. But in Haryana, it depletes by one metre every year.”
Under Bhujal Yojana, the state plans to check the speed of depleting groundwater. For example, currently if the water level in a particular area is 100 metres and it’s anticipated that it will reach at 104 metres in next four years, the authorities plan to keep it at 102 metres by reducing the depletion speed by 50 per cent.
To implement the scheme, the government has planned to incur expenditure of Rs 238 crore on water security plan for each village which includes infrastructure development, measurement of the groundwater in the areas concerned, quality of the water and community participation. The remaining Rs 440 crore will be spent on capacity building, which includes training of the NGO volunteers, rainwater harvesting and other water conservation activities.
“The major objective of this scheme is to create hydrogeological data network of groundwater resources in Haryana and encourage creation of community institutions for the management of groundwater resources in the state,” said an official, adding help of NGOs will be taken for the implementation of the scheme at ground level.
As part of the scheme, the first ‘Jal Panchayat’ was organised in Beholi village of Panipat district on July 10 to ensure community mobilisation, and to make a water security plan for the village. Under the scheme, Dr Anil Gautam, a hydrologist working for Atal Bhujal Yojana, alongwith his team conducted three days’ research to explore groundwater management issues in Beholi village.
The team examined the condition of groundwater in the village and conducted water quality testing. The ‘Jal Panchayat’ was organised to share findings of the research with the villagers, who in turn also shared their suggestions to resolve water-related problems in Beholi.
Panipat DC Sushil Sarwan, who also attended the ‘Jal Panchayat’, requested the villagers to conserve water resources. He also assured support from the district administration in ensuring the successful implementation of Atal Bhujal Yojana.