- Centrally Sponsored Scheme of “Soil Conservation Work in the catchments of River Valley Projects (RVP)” was launched in 1962-63.
- The Ministry of Agriculture started a scheme of Integrated Watershed Management in the Catchments of Flood Prone Rivers (FPR) in 1980- 81.
- During the 1980s, several successful experiences of fully treated watersheds, such as Sukhomajri in Haryana and Ralegaon Siddhi in Western Maharashtra, came to be reported.
- The Ministry of Agriculture launched a scheme for propagation of water harvesting/conservation technology in rainfed areas in 19 identified locations in 1982-83.
- In October 1984, the Ministry of Rural Development (MoRD) adopted this approach in 22 other locations in rainfed areas.
- With experience gained from all these, the concept of integrated watershed development was first institutionalised with the launching of the National Watershed Development Programme of Rainfed Areas (NWDPRA) in 1990, covering 99 districts in 16 states.
- Meanwhile, conservation work was ongoing in the Drought Prone Areas Programme (DPAP) launched by MoRD in 1972-73.
- In 1977-78, the MoRD started a special programme for hot desert areas of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana and cold desert areas of Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh (which were earlier under DPAP) called Desert Development Programme (DDP).
- In 1988 the National Committee on DPAP and DDP was set up under the Chairmanship of the Member, Planning Commission to appraise and review the DPAP and DDP. The committee was initially headed by Dr. Y.K. Alagh and later by Shri L.C. Jain who took over as Member, Planning commission in charge of the subject. The committee submitted its report in August 1990.
- In 1994, a Technical Committee under the Chairmanship of Prof. C.H. Hanumantha Rao was appointed to appraise the impact of the work done under DPAP/DDP; identification of the weaknesses of the programme and to suggest improvements.
- The Hanumantha Rao Committee felt that “the programmes have been implemented in a fragmented manner by different departments through rigid guidelines without any well-designed plans prepared on watershed basis by involving the inhabitants. Except in a few places, in most of the programme areas the achievements have been dismal. Ecological degradation has been proceeding unabated in these areas with reduced forest cover, reducing water table and a shortage of drinking water, fuel and fodder” (Hanumantha Rao Committee, 1994, Preface).
- The Committee, therefore, decided to revamp the strategy of implementation of these programmes, drawing upon the “the outstanding successes” of some ongoing watershed projects.
- It recommended that sanctioning of works should be on the basis of the action plans prepared on watershed basis instead of fixed amount being allocated per block as was the practice at that time.
- It called for introduction of participatory modes of implementation, through involvement of beneficiaries of the programme and non-government organisations (NGOs).
- It recommended that “wherever voluntary organizations are forthcoming, the management of watershed development should be entrusted to them with the ultimate aim of handing over to them one-fourth of total number of watersheds for development”.
- The Committee also called for a substantial augmentation of resources for watershed development by “pooling resources from other programmes being implemented by the Ministry of Rural Development, e.g., Jawahar Rozgar Yojana, Employment Assurance Scheme, etc., and by integrating them with DPAP and DDP”.
- The Committee recommended suitable institutional mechanism for bringing about coordination between different departments at the central and state levels with a view to ensuring uniformity of approach in implementing similar programmes for the conservation of land and water resources.
- On the basis of these recommendations, the Hanumantha Rao Committee formulated a set of “Common Guidelines”, bringing five different programmes under the MoRD, namely, DPAP, DDP and Integrated Wastelands Development Programme (IWDP), as also the Innovative- Jawahar Rozgar Yojana (I-JRY) and Employment Assurance Scheme (EAS), 50% of the funds of both of which were to be allocated for watershed works.
- The watershed projects taken up by MoRD from 1994 to 2001 followed these Common Guidelines of 1994.
- In 2000, the Ministry of Agriculture revised its guidelines for NWDPRA, making them “more participatory, sustainable and equitable”. These were called WARASA – JAN SAHABHAGITA Guidelines.
- The Common Guidelines of 1994 were revised by MoRD in 2001 and then again modified and reissued as “Guidelines for Hariyali” in April 2003
The ongoing watershed programmes are listed below.
Ministry of Agriculture (Department of Agriculture and Cooperation)
1. National Watershed Development Project for Rainfed Areas (NWDPRA):
2. Soil Conservation in the Catchments of River Valley Projects (RVP):
3. Shifting Cultivation: The Watershed Development Project in Shifting Cultivation Area (WDPSCA)
4. Reclamation of Alkali Soils.
5. Watershed Development Fund (WDF)
6. Externally Aided Projects (EAPs)
Ministry of Rural Development (Department of Land Resources)
1. Drought Prone Areas Programme (DPAP
2. Desert Development Programme (DDP
3. Integrated Wasteland Development Programme (IWDP
4. Externally Assisted Projects (EAPs)
6. Investment Promotional Scheme
7. Support to NGOs
8. The Wastelands Development Task Force
Ministry of Environment and Forests
1. Integrated Afforestation and Eco-development Projects Scheme