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Neeranchal National Watershed Project

As a part GS-3 – Irrigation systems, We need to focus on relevant projects/schemes launched in 2015-16. We will try to bring all such important projects/schemes. One such project is, “Neeranchal” for the Watershed Component of the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayi Yojana (PMKSY), Let’s see it in brief!

What is a watershed?

A watershed also known as drainage basin is an extent or an area of land where surface water from rain, melting snow or ice converges to a single point at a lower elevation, usually the exit of the basin, where the waters join another waterbody, such as a river, lake etc.


What is watershed management?

  • Watershed management is an adaptive, comprehensive, integrated multi-resource management planning process that seeks to balance healthy ecological, economic, and cultural/social conditions within a watershed.
  • Watershed management serves to integrate planning for land and water; it takes into account both ground and surface water flow, recognizing and planning for the interaction of water, plants, animals and human land use found within the physical boundaries of a watershed.

What are the objectives of Neeranchal?

  • 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
  • The project will be implemented by the Ministry of Rural Development over a six-year period (2016-21)

Let’s first learn about Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY)

  • PMKSY is a central scheme that aims at providing irrigation facilities to every village in the country by converging ongoing irrigation schemes
  • The vision of extending the coverage of irrigation ‘Har Khet Ko Paani’ and improving water use efficiency ‘More crop per drop’ in a focused manner
  • With end to end solution on source creation, distribution, management, field application and extension activities
  • A dynamic annual fund allocation methodology mandates states, to allot more funds to irrigation sectors for becoming eligible to access funds under this scheme, is being considered

The Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana programme should concentrate on 2 important things –

  • First, it should quickly put to use 20–40 million ha of unutilised irrigation potential created in major, medium and minor irrigation projects
  • Second, it should provide better quality power rations to farmers during the time of peak irrigation demand.
  • Madhya Pradesh has done precisely this and multiplied the state’s irrigated area quickly, at small incremental cost, delivering double-digit agricultural growth

What about funding ?

  • The Government of India and the World Bank have signed a US$ 178.50 million credit for the Neeranchal National Watershed Project to improve watershed management in rural rainfed areas
  • The credit will support the watershed activities of the PMKSY in selected 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 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

[IDA – International financial institution which offers concessional loans and grants to the world’s poorest developing countries. The IDA is a member of the World Bank Group]

Concerns that will be addressed by Neeranchal-

  • Bring about institutional changes in watershed and rainfed agricultural management practices in India
  • Build systems that ensure watershed programmes and rainfed irrigation management practices are better focused, and more coordinated, and have quantifiable results
  • Devise strategies for the sustainability of improved watershed. management practices in programme areas, even after the withdrawal of project support
  • Through the watershed plus approach, support improved equity, livelihoods, and incomes through forward linkages, on a platform of inclusiveness and local participation


 What are the benefits?

  • Lead to reducing surface runoff of rainwater
  • It will increase recharge of groundwater and better availability of water in rainfed areas
  • It resulting in incremental rainfed agriculture productivity, enhanced milk yield and increased cropping intensity through better convergence related programmes in project areas
  • It will strengthen and provide technical assistance to enhance delivery capacity
  • This is an area development programme and all people living in the project area will be benefitted

What are the challenges ahead?

  • Enhanced participation of communities, building stronger capacities and systems to plan, implement, monitor and post-project sustainability of local institutions and assets
  • These challenges, if not resolved, can result in implementation delays, slow disbursements and benefits

Want to read more?

Published with inputs from Arun

Any doubts?

  1. Neeraj Kumar

    whats the ans of question 2.all the programmes are run by deptt.of land resource ministry of rural development ??

  2. Khushwant Singh

    In benefits — 3rd point talks about enhanced milk yield. what does i mean ????

    regards !

  3. Pushpendra Rana

    CD Explains: Can anyone please elaborate on –” It should provide better quality power rations to farmers during the time of peak irrigation demand.”
    Also, the MP example, how they have achieved better watershed mgmt

    1. Jayansh Singh

      Farmers’ demand for electricity is season-specific. Providing better quality power rations in peak periods of irrigation requirements means ensuring the supply of three-phase high-voltage, uninterrupted good quality electricity during a certain number of days in a year when the demand for irrigation is maximum.

      MP Goverment has specifically done two things to better utilize its irrigation potential – it provided temporary tube-well power connections to farmers throughout the wheat growing season, and focused on effective use of canals to increase the total irrigated land area.

[op-ed snap] Water Commission’s case for water rates

Image source


Mains Paper 3: Agriculture | Different types of irrigation & irrigation systems storage

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Central Water Commission, Union, state and concurrent lists of constitution, 14th Finance Commission,

Mains level: Need to rationalize water usage in India


CWC paper on pricing water

  1. India has 17% of the world’s population but only 4% of its freshwater resources
  2. India needs to rationalize water usage both in agriculture and industry, with transparent governance and attendant institutional mechanism
  3. Central Water Commission (CWC) has put out a paper on pricing of water for agriculture, proposing methodology and principles

Constitutional provisions related to water

  1. As per the Constitution, water is a state subject
  2. State governments tend to levy water charges on a crop-area basis
  3. These rates are unrevised for years, often decades, contributing to water wastage, and thwarting of much-needed resources for maintenance of irrigation infrastructure
  4. Water usage for our major crops is about 2-4 times that in other major farming nations

Points highlighted in CWC paper

  1. The CWC paper notes that the 14th Finance Commission has recommended full volumetric measurement of irrigation water supply nationally
  2. Water charges need to be proportionately higher for water-intensive crops, vary by season, duly take into account reliability of supply and factor in equity considerations such as farm size
  3. This surcharge would not yield significant amounts but we need to disincentivize water usage, by researching better seed varieties

Underutilisation of resources

  1. India’s ultimate irrigation potential is estimated at 140 million hectares
  2. Today our infrastructure from myriad major, medium and minor irrigation projects including groundwater schemes covers well over 81% of that target
  3. Unrealistic water rates prevent proper utilization or preservation of the assets that have been created

Innovations in place for irrigation projects

  1. Purpose: To ensure that these projects are completed
  2. Funding: The key hindrance used to be that States lacked funds to complete projects but now rules have been amended to allow them to get loans from NABARD for their projects
  3. States can also borrow additional funds from NABARD
  4. Through NABARD, the government will provide 15-year loans at 6% interest and ensure that a project is sanctioned only if panchayats and local water-use associations are closely involved
  5. The average cost over-run of projects so far has been 352% with some more than 2000%
  6. Monitoring: The status of a project with an app
  7. To ensure efficiency we need more participation from end-users

Centre mulls mega fund flow to push irrigation

  1. NABARD will manage a Rs. 77,000-crore corpus as part of a Central government push to complete 99 unfinished irrigation projects across the country by 2019
  2. This would help bring water to 76.03 lakh hectares
  3. These projects are part of PM Krishi Sinchayee Yojana
  4. Priority: All drought and suicide-prone districts will be first covered
  5. There will be short-cut (sic) appraisals & incentives will be given to States who complete their projects before time
  6. Background: The 99 projects are part of 149 irrigation projects across the country, overdue since 1997
  7. At least Rs. 67, 539 crore has been spent on these until March 2015 to build dams and irrigation projects but with little water actually making it to farmers’ fields
  8. Traditionally the Central government apportioned money to States to complete projects

India water week: Addressing critical water issues

  1. Organised by: Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation
  2. Outcomes: Need to prioritise a multi-disciplinary approach to water
  3. Laws should inculcate a respect for the principle that water is a common legacy
  4. Government’s Initiatives: Krishi Sinchayee Yojana, Nirmal Bharat Abhiyan and Integrated Watershed Management Programme

Modi likely to unveil Mission Kakatiya pylon

  1. PM would unveil a pylon of Mission Kakatiya, one of the flagship programmes of the State Govt taken up for revival of minor irrigation tanks.
  2. unique identity number will be allocated to every tank being taken up for revival.
  3. The target for second phase of the programme this year was revival of 10,308 tanks.
  4. The govt had already taken a decision to take the help of IIT and BITS here in its endeavour to revive chain-link tank system.

India signs a agreement with World Bank for Watershed Project

  1. The Govt of India signed a loan agreement with World Bank for the Neeranchal National Watershed Project.
  2. The project will be implemented by the Ministry of Rural Development over a six-year period (2016-21).
  3. It will support the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayi Yojana in hydrology and water management, agricultural production systems, capacity building and monitoring and evaluation.
  4. All the 29 states which implement the watershed projects will benefit from Neeranchal.
  5. 12% of the wasteland area will be targeted through this project to make about 336 lakh hectares of land arable.


  1. The aim is to ensure smooth availability of labour.
  2. MNREGS labourers are usually engaged in irrigation projects, one of the main focus of the scheme — but a formal arrangement does not exist.
  3. It would also ensure availability of adequate hands for agrarian work as rural India had seen a shortage of labourers for agriculture work after MGNERS was rolled out.
  4. PMKSY is under Ministry of Agriculture and MGNERS is under Ministry of Rural Development.

Do Know about Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana?

The objective is to converge investments in irrigation at the farm level and provide end-to-end solution.

Four components are :

  • Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) – Focuses on faster completion of ongoing Major and Medium Irrigation including National Projects.
  • Har Khet ko Paani – This component mainly focuses on creation of new water sources through minor irrigation that includes both surface and groundwater.
  • Per Drop More Crop – It promotes efficient water conveyance and precision water application devices like drips, sprinklers, pivots, rain-guns in the farm (Jal Sinchan).
  • Watershed Development – Focuses on effective management of runoff water and improved soil & moisture conservation activities
  • Such as ridge area treatment, rain water harvesting, in-situ moisture conservation on watershed basis.

States get more time to spend funds on micro irrigation

The Agriculture Ministry has extended by a month the deadline for States to utilise funds under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY).

  1. Under the scheme, States were supposed to restore water bodies and converge micro irrigation projects.
  2. The schemes had to be implemented by States but if they failed to do so, then they would stand to lose the funds.
  3. Against a target of 5 lakh hectares, only 1.32 lakh hectares had been brought under micro irrigation.
  4. The programme envisages drought proofing, drip and sprinkler irrigation and tying up with MGNREGA schemes, all of which are within the purview of State governments.

CCEA approves World Bank Assisted Project – Neeranchal

  1. Neeranchal for Watershed Component of Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayi Yojana.
  2. What’s this new initiative going to aid to? 3 things, actually!
  3. Watershed Component of the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayi Yojana (PMKSY)
  4. Ensuring access to irrigation to every farm (Har Khet Ko Pani)
  5. Efficient use of water (Per Drop More Crop).

:( We are working on most probable questions. Do check back this section.

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