Watershed means a geographical area where retention of water is negligible and water runs off the area through a common drainage point – a river, a stream or a nullah etc. Consequently, ground water recharge does not take place in the watershed and even the soil moisture is not retained. Even if there is sufficient rainfall in the watershed, the area becomes unfit for agriculture, horticulture and other agro-based activities. Hence, development of watershed aims basically at retention of whatever water the watershed receives so as to increase soil moisture, regenerate vegetative cover recharging of ground water so that people living in the watershed may engage themselves locally for their livelihood through agriculture, horticulture, pissiculture and through various other means including aninmal husbandry, cottage industries etc. Wastelands and degraded lands have also been brought under the purview of watershed development. All these activities are expected to be planned and implemented by the local people as far as practicable in a sustainable manner through Self Help Groups, Users’ Groups and with the participation of the community as a whole.

    The guidelines have been revised by the Deptt. of Land Resources, M.O.R.D., Govt. of India wef 1.9.2001. Of the various programmes covered by the guidelines, our Department is responsible for implementation of Integrated Wastelands development Programme (IWDP). According to the guidelines, 10-12 contiguous micro watersheds having an area of 500 ha. each are to be identified for development through a designated Project Implementation Agency(PIA). In our state, Panchayat Samitis are the PIAs. A multi-disciplinary team at the Panchayat Samiti level called Watershed Development Team (WDT) will be responsible for implementation of the programme concerned though the actual implementation will be done at the watershed level through an association called Watershed Association. The Association will function through an Executive Body called the Watershed Committee. The scale of expenditure is Rs.6000/- per hectre of treatable area. The sharing of fund between the center and state is 11:1. During 2001-02, one project in Kanksa Block in Burdwan with an area of 5500 ha. has been sanctioned for a cost of Rs.327.60 lakh and a sum of Rs.49.10 lakh has been released. Five other projects in the districts of Burdwan, Bankura and Birbhum with a total area of 26634.50 ha. have been sent to the Government of India for approval. Watershed Development Programme is also being implemented in the ongoing projects (as on 1.4.99) taken up under EAS in the two districts of Purulia and Bankura.


    Watershed development programme is also being implemented in our state out of fund available from NABARD as grant and loan. At the preliminary stage, NABARD gives assistance as grant for development of a small area within a watershed (capacity building phase) in order to find out whether the full-fledged implementation can be taken up for the entrire area. The programme has been taken up in the districts of Purulia, Bankura, Birbhum, Burdwan, Paschim Medinipur and the DGHC area of Darjeeling. No project has yet been submitted by the DGHC. Capacity Building projects are going on in ten micro-watersheds in the districts of Purulia, Bankura, Burdwan, Paschim Medinipur and Birbhum. Full-scale implementation is going to be taken up in two micro-watersheds in Bankura.

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