- In 2012-13, when Maharashtra state faced a severe drought-like situation, Prabhakar Deshmukh, the then Pune Municipal Commissioner, conceptualized a Jalyukta Gaon Abhiyan in five districts of Pune division: Pune, Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur and Solapur.
- The programme was funded by Integrated Watershed Management Programme of 2008 and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme Fund, besides state and local district level sources, and was expected to benefit around 1000 villages at a cost of approximately ₹1327 crores.
- The then Congress – NCP state government had also decided to invest in large irrigation projects, – where over a period of time ₹70,000 crores were allocated – and this successful yet localized programme was neither scaled up nor replicated.
- When Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis took over the reins, of the new BJP – Shiv Sena state government, among the first things the government did, alongside initiating irrigation scam enquiries, was to adopt the Deshmukh experiment from Pune wholeheartedly and launch Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyan in December 2014.
- Fadnavis government has also sought to link the tracking and monitoring of this programme to the vision of Digital India in line with the central government thrust to improve governance accountability and Maharashtra Remote Sensing Application Centre has been roped into this to track progress.
What is Jalyukta Shivar Abhiyan?
- This programme will focus on restoration, repair, rejuvenation and construction of local water bodies in rural areas.
- This will also focus on connecting local water streams to larger water bodies, creating percolation tanks and bunds and de-silting existing rural water bodies, including use of cement lining to ensure permanent water retention and storage.
- The state government has allocated ₹5,000 crore for the programme, though in the first year, the grants are capped at ₹1,000 crore, given the budgetary challenges the government faces. By March 2016, the government aims to make 5,000 villages drought free.
- This programme is targeting the worst hit 10% of the Maharashtra villages in year 1 via government funding, the programme is already attracting citizen, NGO and CSR involvement, which will help broaden its the footprint over time.
- The programme had initially targeted about 70,000 works in the first set of 5,000 villages. This number has already gone up to 76,000 in the first few months of the launch.
- Individuals from Latur district have contributed sums as high as ₹100,000 for this programme.
Source: Swarajya Magazine