The goal of Atal Bhujal Yojana (Atal Jal) is to demonstrate community-led sustainable ground water management which can be taken to scale. The major objective of the Scheme is to improve the management of groundwater resources in select water stressed areas in identified states viz. Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
Atal Jal is targeted at sustainable ground water management, mainly through convergence among various on-going schemes with the active involvement of local communities and stakeholders. This will ensure that in the Scheme area, the funds allocated by the Central and State governments are spent judiciously to ensure long term sustainability of ground water resources. The convergence shall further result in incentives to State Governments for suitable investments, aided by strong data base, scientific approach and community participation. The scheme has been designed as a pilot with the principal objective of strengthening the institutional framework for participatory ground water management. It also aims at bringing about behavioural change at the community level through awareness programs and capacity building for fostering sustainable ground water management in the participating States.
|1.||Decision support tools for ground water management : An MIS is being developed to operationalise and standardise program implementation across the Participating States. The MIS will be used to operationalise and standardise the preparation of Water Security Plans (WSPs), water budgeting, monitoring of ground water levels and quality, and reporting on the progress in implementation of WSPs. The MIS will be extensively used by implementing agencies at all levels. It will provide access to information for beneficiary communities to plan and implement interventions.|
|2.||Strengthen community based institutions to foster management : The incentives provided under ATAL JAL will trigger initiatives to strengthen enabling institutions and build the required information base for bottom‐up, participatory planning and implementation of appropriate interventions in ground water management and use. This represents a step change in the ‘business‐as‐usual’ approach and will set the correct course to accomplish sustainable ground water management at a larger scale.|
|3.||Improve water use efficiency and enhance ground water recharge : The Program supports volumetric metering and real‐time data systems, as well as raising awareness about the importance of good ground water governance. It also supports on‐ground actions that are based on community ownership and judicious management of water resources.|
|4.||Fiscal decentralisation : The program not only focuses on building state institutions but also supports the general move of the Government of India (GoI) towards fiscal decentralisation. It takes forward the GWMR Scheme, a centrally implemented scheme that does not allocate funds to the state level. This centralised approach has affected ownership, uptake, and implementation of the Aquifer Management Plan (AMPs). In ATAL JAL, funds are to flow from the central government to the states and from there onwards to the appropriate implementing levels (districts, blocks, GPs, and beneficiaries).|
|1.||Central level : At the central level, CGWB under the MoWR, RD&GR will steer ‘Atal Bhujal Yojana’ project both at the National and State / District levels in respect of both Institutional Strengthening & Capacity Building as well as Incentive Component. Its mandate is to develop and disseminate technologies and monitor and implement national policies for scientific and sustainable development of ground water resources, including their exploration, assessment, conservation, augmentation, and protection from pollution and distribution.|
State level: At the state level, State Program Implementation Agency (SPIA) and Technical Support Agency/Nodal agencies like Water Resource Departments, Agriculture Departments, Departments of Public Health and Engineering, Department of Panchayati Raj, etc will be responsible. They primarily focus on ground water resource estimation and monitoring, review and approval of state action plans, annual implementation plans, inter-departmental coordination, ensure convergence of funds from other ongoing central/state sector schemes including interventions under Jal Jeevan Mission.
The ground water agencies of the concerned states are as follows
• Gujarat. - Gujarat Water Resources Development Corporation Limited under the Department of Water Resources
• Haryana. - Ground Water Cell under the Department of Agriculture
• Karnataka - State Ground Water Directorate under the Water Resources Department
• Madhya Pradesh - Ground Water Division under the State Water Resources Department
• Maharashtra - Ground Water Surveys and Development Agency
• Rajasthan - Ground Water Directorate under the Public Health Engineering Department
District Program Management Unit (DPMU) will be established in each program district identified, to support the state and the Gram Panchayats (GPs) in implementing activities under Atal Bhujal Yojana. The DPMU will be responsible for planning and supervision of implementation of the scheme at the District level. DPMU consists of 1 District Collector/CEO, Zilla Parishad; 3 technical officer – a Hydrogeologist/Water resource expert, an Agriculture expert and a Nodal officer; 1 IEC/Communication expert and 2/3 Data entry operator to support the smooth functioning of DPMU.
The district level institutional apparatus consists of institutions present at the district, block, and village level. These are collectively known as Panchayati Raj Institution (PRIs) and play a critical role because they are one of the key institutions through which many national programs such as MGNREGA, PMKSY and so on are implemented at the field. PRIs also have significant powers to decide how funds will be allocated for various uses and are in some cases responsible for implementation of on‐the‐ground investments, in addition to the monitoring of program implementation.
Gram Panchayat level (GP): GPs have a key role in the implementation of the Atal Bhujal Yojana, being the last tier of
administration and the critical link between the community and the administration. Every GP will strengthen the Water Management Committees/Village Water and Sanitation Committee (WMC / VWSC) that already exist with additional co-opted members including women. These strengthened WMCs/VWSCs will function as the Water User Association (WUA). The Gram Pradhan will either be the head of the WUA or assign an elected representative to be its functional or notional head, as might be appropriate. The functions of the WUAs will include
• Mobilizing community on groundwater management issues;
• Conducting water budgeting exercises, preferably season-wise or at least once a year involving the community;
• Identifying supply-side and demand-side activities to be undertaken for groundwater management;
• Compiling a two-year (or longer, but specifying year wise break-up) implementation plan for the GP;
• WUA would also take up activities to create awareness among local leaders, through regular meetings and workshops on the importance of groundwater management and the need for promoting participatory groundwater management processes in their respective areas.
|•||The vast majority of Program implementation will be the responsibility of the state, district and block governments; gram panchayats (GPs); and communities. Implementation arrangements are designed to promote the use of existing structures at all levels and to promote coordination between various agencies and tiers of government. The approaches include-|
|•||Foundation of national and state level inter‐agency Steering Committees for better coordination between ground water departments and agencies.|
|•||Disbursement of funds to the states based on achievement.|
|•||Hiring of Technical Support Agencies (TSAs) at the national and state level and Support Organisations (SOs) to bridge capacity gaps and build capacity in public institutions and|
|•||Development of an integrated Management Information System (MIS) that increases the flow of information and eases the implementation of standardised Program procedures|
|•||At the central level, a Program Management Unit (PMU) has been established in the MoWR, RD&GR to implement the Program. It will be responsible for program planning and coordination across various state implementing agencies; Financial Management (FM) and procurement of central activities; monitoring of social and environmental aspects; Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E); and communications. The PMU will also provide support to the state implementing agencies upon demand. The PMU will be supported in carrying out its functions by a national level Technical Support Agency (TSA) whose main task will be conducting a national communications campaign to promote the behavioural changes required under the Program.|
|•||State level Steering Committees for ground water management will be established in each of the seven Participating States to oversee state and local level implementation of the program and coordinate between various state agencies. Each state has been assigned a nodal agency for the ATAL JAL Program. State level Program Implementation Agencies (PIAs) in the nodal agency have already been established to implement the Program. The PIAs will be responsible for technical, environmental and social, FM, procurement, and administrative aspects of program implementation and monitoring at the state level. The PIA will be staffed by a team of experts, including technical specialists, environmental and social specialists, procurement and FM specialists, and M&E specialists. A key responsibility of the PIA will be to ensure that adequate and need based support is provided at the local level to prepare and implement Water Security Plans (WSPs).|
|•||At the district level, existing district, block and Gram Panchayat (GP) government institutions will be responsible for implementing the Program at their own levels. Implementation responsibilities include the preparation of WSPs and the implementation of district and community level interventions from WSPs. Nodal agencies are already present in all program districts through their divisional level units (DPIUs). The state PIA supported by the TSA will hire the requisite number of Support Organisations (SOs) to facilitate community participation in preparing and implementing WSPs. The SOs will work hand in hand with DPIUs to ensure that the GPs and Water Users Association (WUAs) or other village level committees build their knowledge and capacity over time on participatory management practices, including preparing WSPs and implementing community level interventions.|
|The primary objective of this Scheme is “to improve the management of groundwater resources in the water stressed areas of the selected States.” This will be achieved by implementing appropriate investments/management actions led by community through convergence of various ongoing /new central and state schemes.|
The recipients of ATAL JAL are the economies, occupations, and social orders that depend upon ground water assets for flourishing and wellbeing. The arrest in decline of ground water levels is likely to improve water regimes required for agriculture, domestic, and industrial purposes, thereby generating societal benefit. In particular, it will have positive impacts on
• Women, small marginal farmers, and agricultural labourers
• Central and state government agencies responsible for ground water management
• Population affected by floods and droughts, particularly poor people living in the rural areas
• Environment and agriculture ministries; research and educational institutions; NGOs; civil society organizations; students and researchers; and the private sector
The key results areas are
(a) Strengthened institutional framework and effective ground water data monitoring and disclosure.
(b) Improved planning and implementation of groundwater management interventions.
|•||ATAL JAL would extend and improve the quality of ground water monitoring network and the assessment and utilization of monitoring data. It will help in building a comprehensive database that incorporates ground water data availability and quality, as well as its demand on the resource base.|
|•||The Program would also incentivise the advancement of information accumulation and sharing mechanisms between central and state agencies. This would empower the dispersal of annual ground water status reports required for improved participatory ground water management.|
|•||Arrangements for financial and procurement management for implementing Atal Bhujal Yojana have been designed around the use of systems prevailing at the National/ State levels and/or based on amendments as issued from time to time by the GoI and/or the state governments to:|
• Meet the financial reporting requirements of various stakeholders with transparency;
• Ensure consistency and compliance in procurement processes and procedures
|•||ATAL JAL is relied upon to acquire consistency in the fund flows (including transfers, advances, and banking) and expenditure filing systems with the help of Government of India’s (GoI’s) online Expenditure, Advance, and Transfer (EAT) Module in the Public Financial Management System (PFMS) for all the implementing agencies. In the event that this framework is not utilized by all the implementing agencies, there is a risk that fiduciary monitoring and oversight and consolidation of financial information may weaken significantly. It is proposed that the use of the PFMS by all implementing agencies will be mandatory under ATAL JAL, and any expenditure not entered in the PFMS/EAT will not be considered as Program expenditure.|