Government of India and World Bank sign $178.50 Million Agreement for Neeranchal National Watershed

The Government of India and the World Bank today signed a US$ 178.50 million credit for the Neeranchal National Watershed Project to improve watershed management in rural rain fed areas. The project builds on a longstanding partnership between the World Bank and Government of India around watershed management.

The credit agreement for the project was signed by Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs on behalf of the Government of India and Onno Ruhl, World Bank Country Director, India on behalf of the World Bank.

On the occasion, Shri Birendra Singh, Minister of Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Drinking Water and Sanitation, Government of India said that the Neeranchal Programme, which is to be implemented with the support of the World Bank, will usher in knowledge partnership and provide access to global best practices in watershed management. The programme will help in improving the livelihood and incomes of the farmers. Shri Vijay Madan, Secretary, Department of Land Resources noted that Neeranchal will provide the much needed support for improving the implementation effectiveness of the PMKSY.

The Government of India has launched Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) to achieve convergence of investments in irrigation at the field level. The scheme also strives to enhance the physical access of water on the farm and expand cultivable area under assured irrigation. Integration of water source, distribution and use; and improving on-farm water use efficiency are important components of the new scheme. Watershed development is critical to India’s development as vast stretches of agricultural land are in rain fed regions, characterized by extensive land degradation, low rainfall, reduced agricultural productivity, and higher rates of poverty. Therefore, PMKSY promotes an integrated development of rain-fed areas using the watershed approach. Neeranchal would support the watershed component of the PMKSY.

“Having recognized the need for an integrated approach to irrigation and efficient water use, the PMKSY aims to provide an end-to-end solution in irrigation supply chain. Under the scheme, various centrally sponsored schemes have been amalgamated to create synergy between water source, distribution network, and farm level applications. Neeranchal would follow the watershed approach, and would complement the efforts towards soil and water conservation, regeneration of ground water, improvement in agricultural productivity, and providing livelihood options,” said Raj Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India.

The project, to be implemented over a six-year period, would strengthen the capacity of the key national and state level institutions implementing the watershed component on PMKSY, including the central Department of Land Resources (DoLR) and the State Level Nodal Agencies (SLNAs) for more effective planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of their programs. It will support the preparation of integrated science-based, participatory watershed plans with a greater focus on water management. These plans will guide investments to improve more efficient use of water for agriculture, recharge local groundwater, and enhance the convergence of various programs in order to ensure more effective use of public resources.

“Efficient watershed management will help increase agricultural production in rain fed areas, lead to better use of scarce water resources and raise household incomes of farmers”, said Onno Ruhl, World Bank Country Director for India. “For over three decades, the Bank has been working on standalone watershed operations. This project is a huge opportunity for the Bank to help the government in its efforts to improve the outcomes of the national PMKSY scheme, which forms the cornerstone of the government’s support to watershed development in India.”

The project signed today will support the watershed activities of the PMKSY in selected sites in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Rajasthan. It will cover about 400 sub-watersheds of about 5,000 ha each and reach approximately 482,000 farmer households and two million people.

“The Neeranchal Project will support PMKSY to improve watershed management practices and demonstrate measurable results in selected sub-watersheds. It will introduce new hydrological approaches and innovative tools for community participation with a more integrated watershed planning process, pilot new field practices that will improve conservation outcomes, water availability, agricultural yields and climate resilience, and scale up a more effective monitoring and evaluation system to track performance,” said Grant Milne, Senior Natural Resources Management Specialist and Priti Kumar, Senior Environmental Specialist and World Bank’s Task Team Leaders for the project.

The credit is from the International Development Association (IDA) – the World Bank’s concessionary lending arm with a maturity of 25 years, including a 5 year grace period.