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Study shows improvement in ground water recharge

India: Indian Council of Agricultural Research’s (ICAR) impact evaluation studies reveal that watershed-based interventions have led to increase in groundwater recharge, number of wells and water bodies and enhancement of cropping intensity in India. The study was based on remote sensing techniques. It has also brought about changes in cropping patterns leading to higher yields and reduction in soil losses. It is proposed in the XI Five Year Plan to develop about 2.34 million hectares covering about 3,878 micro watersheds. Out of this, an area of 0.796 million hectares has been developed at a cost of INR 6.384 billion by December 2009.

ICAR was allocated a budget of INR 0.75 billion in XI Plan for Central Research Institute for Dryland Agriculture (CRIDA) and All India Coordinated Research Project on Dryland Agriculture (AICRPDA). It has developed technology modules in dryland farming for various agro-climatic zones. Eighteen model watershed projects covering different agro-ecological regions of the country have been assigned to Central Soil and Water Conservation Research and Training Institute (CSWCRTI) and ICRISAT to address the bio-physical and socio-economic dimensions of specific agro-climatic conditions and to develop suitable technologies for maximizing the development process under watershed programmes. These projects are to serve as model projects for replicating successful technologies for wider dissemination through National Watershed Development Project for Rain-fed Areas (NWDPRA) and other national and state level funded watershed projects.

In India, of the total cultivated area of around 140.30 million hectares only 60.86 million is irrigated and remaining 79.44 million hectares is rain-fed. Considering the high potential of rain-fed agriculture, the Central government has allocated approximately INR 5 billion annually under the scheme of Macro Management of Agriculture for the programmes of natural resource management for development of rain-fed and degraded areas based on watershed approach as per Annual Work Plan proposed by the States. Department of Land Resources has made provision of INR 153.59 billion for the XI Plan for watershed management.

Source: Press Information Bureau