12 Jun 2012

New funding pattern approved for IWMP, says Jairam

Union Rural Development Minister has called for a paradigm shift in the implementation of Integrated Watershed Management Programme, IWMP, to improve the productivity of land in the desert, drought prone areas and in the degraded landmass. Briefing the media after a day-long National Conference on IWMP here, Shri Jairam Ramesh said that the huge unspent money to the tune of Rs.3,900 crore by the States, speaks volumes about the way the water conservation schemes are being implemented. He said, the most important decision taken in today’s meet was the change in the system of fund release and added that now onwards funds will be released twice a year based on the annual action plan of the States rather than the earlier system of three tranche system spread over Seven Years leading to accumulation of unspent balance. He said, the new system will follow the MGNREGA model and will be in tune with the new austerity guidelines issued by the Finance Ministry recently. He said, out of the 320 million hectares of land in India, 115 million hectares are arid land but in the last three decades 56 million hectares were made cultivable through watershed schemes, but at the same time, he laid stress on greater use of technology to verify the data. Shri Ramesh also assured the Ministers and Representatives of the States that guidelines for the use of funds and in other areas will be made more flexible and the new guidelines will be issued within a month. Some of the States also demanded to hike the administrative expenses from the existing 10 percent to 15 percent, besides giving them the rights to inter-transfer funds in various central schemes, which the Minister said, would be considered in due course. Shri Ramesh also favoured greater role for the Panchayati Raj Institutions in the implementation of water conservation and soil reclamation schemes and called for satellite based Concurrent Monitoring system for authentication of data. The Minister also hinted at relaxing the cost norm of Rs.15,000 per hectare grant in naxal-affected areas to special problem areas, while it is Rs.12,000/hectare in normal areas. The main objectives of the IWMP are to restore the ecological balance by harnessing, conserving and developing degraded natural resources such as soil, vegetative cover and water and the outcomes are prevention of soil run-off, regeneration of natural vegetation, rain water harvesting and recharging of the ground water table. 

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