Keeping in mind the importance of sustainable development of rainfed/degraded lands, the Department of Land Resources organized a National Watershed Conference on 14 July 2022 in New Delhi. Giriraj Singh, Union Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj chaired the inaugural session.
Faggan Singh Kulaste, Minister of State for Rural Development and Steel, and Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti, Minister of State for Rural Development and Consumption, Food and Public Distribution, and Panchayati Raj, Kapil Moreshwar Patil graced the occasion. The conference was attended by secretaries and other senior officials from central government ministries/departments such as Jal Shakti, Rural Development, NITI Aayog, Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Livestock, National Rainfed Area Authority (NRAA) and others.
The CEO, NARA and other senior officials were also present. About 600 to 700 representatives from across the country were also present. The conference is taking place against the backdrop of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi increasing the country’s commitment to restore degraded land from 21 million hectares to 26 million hectares while assuming the Presidency of COP-14, UNCCD in 2019.
The conference focused mainly on three themes:
On this occasion, the Minister also unveiled an e-book on the achievements of the Department of Land Resources and GIS 2.0 for the watershed development component of the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (WDC-PMKSY).
In his address to the Ministers of State and senior officials of the various States, Giriraj Singh urged them to learn and adopt best practices from other States to facilitate cross-learning, as well as disseminate best practices under WDC- PMKSY 2.0 and strengthening the focus on doubling farmers’ incomes through the production system and rejuvenating water bodies through Amrit Sarovars.
Giriraj Singh said that while working on degraded land through watershed projects in states and UTs, efforts should be made to contribute significantly to doubling farmers’ incomes. He highlighted the importance of reforestation, horticulture and integrated farming systems, among others, in the watershed project areas, so that these activities can help farmers earn more money. He underscored the importance for States/UTs to make efforts to support beneficiaries in the implementation of projects in the fields so that they can take the best care of their land holdings.
The DoLR has invited Padma Laureates like Popatrao Pawar (Hiware Bazar Model) and Jadav Payeng (Man Forester from India) to bring about the desired impact in the implementation of watershed projects, and experts like BMS Rathore ( former Chief Policy Advisor, ICIMOD) and DS Meena, Addl. Secretary, Govt. from Uttarakhand were invited to cover the role of spring basin development.
In his remarks, Ajay Tirkey, DoLR Secretary, said that WDC-PMKSY has the potential to restore rainfed/degraded lands and become even more critical given increasing population and decreasing availability. agricultural land per capita. He observed that nearly 67 percent of the rural population is highly dependent on agriculture and that restoring rain-fed/degraded lands could benefit them.
He said program activities would contribute to preventing land degradation, restoring productivity, enhancing biodiversity, ecological services and many other benefits. More importantly, WDC-PMKSY 2.0 would discourage farmers from leaving their farmlands, thereby reducing migration, which causes a proliferation of forced/unplanned urbanization and other avoidable consequences.
Prime Minister Modi has issued the bugle call for the Amrit Sarovar mission. WDC-PMKSY 2.0 has enormous potential to create Amrit Sarovars in WDC-PMKSY 2.0 project areas, and States/UTs have been urged to take appropriate action.
First published: July 15, 2022, 09:03 IST