Atal Bhujal Yojana

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Context: On the Birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi launched Atal Bhujal Yojana (ATAL JAL).

Prelims: Current events of national and international importance.
Mains: GS II-Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

Concerned ministry: Ministry of Jal Shakti.

Atal Bhujal Yojana (ATAL JAL):

  • ATAL JAL has been designed with the principal objective of strengthening the institutional framework for participatory groundwater management and bringing about behavioral changes at the community level for sustainable groundwater resource management in seven states:
    1. Gujarat,
    2. Haryana,
    3. Karnataka,
    4. Madhya Pradesh,
    5. Maharashtra,
    6. Rajasthan, and
    7. Uttar Pradesh.
  • Since, groundwater contributes nearly 65% of India’s total irrigated area, with ABY, the Central Government seeks to promote Panchayat led groundwater management and behavioural change with a primary focus on demand-side management.
  • The scheme will also help in supplying water to every household by 2024.
  • Implementation of the scheme is expected to benefit nearly 8350 Gram Panchayats in 78 districts in these States.
  • Nodal Agency: Department of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, Ministry of Jal Shakti.
  • The scheme envisages two important components:
    1. Institutional Strengthening and Capacity Building: for strengthening institutional arrangements for sustainable groundwater management in States. It envisages active participation of communities in various activities such as:
      1. Water budgeting- water management tool that assists communities for the proper management of water resources, by estimating the amount of water a landscape will require.
      2. Monitoring and disseminating groundwater data
      3. Community participation, for example- Formation of Water User Associations.
      4. Preparation/implementation of gram panchayat-wise water security plans.
      5. Information, Education, and Communication (IEC) activities, relating to sustainable groundwater management.
    2. An incentive for the States: for achievements in improved groundwater management practices such as the implementation of management interventions through a convergence of ongoing schemes, adopting demand-side management practices among others.
  • Out of the total outlay of Rs. 6000 crore to be implemented over a period of 5 years (2020-21 to 2024-25), 50% shall be in the form of a World Bank loan, and be repaid by the Central Government.
    • The remaining 50% shall be through Central Assistance from regular budgetary support.
    • The entire World Bank's loan component and Central Assistance shall be passed on to the States as Grants.

What was the need for this scheme?

  • Close to 80% of the urban and rural domestic water supplies in India rely on groundwater.
  • According to a World Bank Report, India accounts for about 25% of the total groundwater abstraction, globally.
  • The increasing number of dark zones (areas where groundwater is overexploited implying annual consumption exceeding annual recharge of groundwater) makes it imperative for this programme to be implemented.
  • The targetted States represent about 25% of the total number of over-exploited, critical and semi-critical blocks in terms of groundwater in India.
    • They also cover two major types of groundwater systems found in India – alluvial and hard rock aquifers- and have varying degrees of institutional readiness and experience in groundwater management.
  • Post the data from the Central Ground Water Board report regarding groundwater depleting at an alarming rate in 30% of the assessed blocks from the assessment of groundwater in the country, there is a vital need for schemes like the Atal Bhujal Yojana.

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