1. The principal environmental risks of the individual investments stem from potential impacts and risks during the construction and operational phases of the scheme. These risks are typical of small-scale civil works projects and will not pose unprecedented or unusual operational challenges. All environmental impacts can be managed with known mitigation measures, which are within the capacity of identified implementing agencies
2. The key process to be followed for environmental management of the scheme consists of the following steps and each of the steps is further elaborated in the following sections
3. Environmental specialists in the NPMU/SPMUs will coordinate with the line departments for implementation of environmental procedures during screening, monitoring, and construction activities and implementation of recommendations proposed.
4. The technical staff of implementing agencies and the village water user committees should be provided with training related to environmental issues associated with the scheme.
5. A screening checklist has been prepared for identification of high-risk investments and potential impacts associated with those investments. The screening process will also consider impacts on the downstream water users, ecological flows, flooding and submergence, water logging and stream erosion, community acceptance, chemical quality of recharging water and need for any treatment, availability of borrow material for construction, sites for disposal of spoils, and so on.
6. The following investments related to the augmentation of groundwater recharge will be excluded from Atal Bhujal Yojana:
7. The following environmental conditions will be included in all the bidding documents of the project to avoid, minimize, and mitigate any adverse/environmental impacts and also to address community and workers’ health and safety. A lump-sum provision will be made in the bills of quantities of the contracts for implementation of these environmental management measures.
8. SPMU shall carry out sample inspections at six-monthly intervals to check if all safeguard requirements are met and to identify any issues that need to be addressed. The sample will mainly cover the schemes that have substantial environmental impacts. There would be an initial baseline monitoring followed by six-monthly monitoring for the following:
9. Twice during the scheme period (in years 2 and 5), the NPMU will appoint an external agency (government agency or independent consulting agency) to undertake an independent audit of the environmental performance of all Atal Bhujal Yojana activities with sample covering adequate number of schemes implemented by the states, that have substantial environmental risks.
10. Inclusion. All supply and demand related activities in Atal Bhujal Yojana will be designed to ensure that the vulnerable, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, women (particularly single women and households headed by women), minorities, small and medium farmers, and landless get included in the planning process and receive equitable access to benefits.
11. Participation. The provisions of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment Act and the corresponding state acts providing rights to participate directly and indirectly in the processes of economic development and social justice should be complied with. SPMUs/DPMUs shall ensure that provisions to support Panchayats in ensuring participatory processes and social inclusion is facilitated by Panchayat subcommittees dealing with water and WUAs.
12. Transparency and accountability. The other available practices of information disclosure and social accountability in the ongoing flagship programs of the GoI will be the guiding principles in ensuring that people are aware and duly informed of the development works in their village. NPMU/SPMU/DPMUs will ensure
13. Land management. Land acquisition and its related adverse social impacts are not foreseen because of the type of program investments. Implementation of WSPs for groundwater management may require land for say drainage line treatment. These small structures such as nalah bund or check dams will be located on public/government/GP/common land. Hence, land acquisition is not envisaged in the Program.
14. Rights and interests of indigenous people and vulnerable groups. The socially vulnerable groups that are severely affected due to depleting quantity of groundwater including small and marginal farmers shall be supported through establishment of water sharing mechanisms that take into account that the limited resources ae also made available to the most vulnerable.
15. Participation, inclusions, and accountability:
16. Fragility and social conflict. Water dispute management is not expected to be a significant issue with Atal Bhujal Yojana as communication strategy will help in bringing about a collective change in perception about participatory management. Should an issue arise, the same shall be resolved at the appropriate level by the competent authority, considering the interests of all parties concerned.
20. SPMUs/DPMUs shall ensure participation of women in water budgeting and water security planning exercises by mandating the presence of at least 33 percent female members in the GP-level WUAs. Women will be trained on budgeting and planning, as well as monitoring implementation progress. Additionally, gender issues will be addressed in the meetings of the WUAs. Specific training and exposure visits will be organized to engage women in the project activities. To this effect, the Results Framework of the scheme will track the participation of women in the committee and Panchayat-level meetings, the gender disaggregated data on scheme beneficiaries and also the number of women-headed user committees shall be recorded for confirmation of participation of women in the scheme.
21. The existing accountability mechanisms under the Right to Information Act and Rights to Services Act will be applicable during the implementation of Atal Bhujal Yojana.
22. The key objective of the IEC will be to raise awareness about deteriorating groundwater levels and the associated and impending impacts. Importance of the role of participation from all stakeholders, especially end users on the field will be presented. Based on principles of inclusion, transparency, and accountability, the IEC strategy should aim to enhance the ability of stakeholders to engage, influence local-level institutions and hold them accountable for their work.
23. The communications model advocated shall be a community-owned communication strategy that encourages civic engagement, where the community is part of the planning and monitoring process of the schemes. The methodology should be to seek to foster social, political, and institutional changes at different levels by building trust among implementers and the users, promoting a two-way communication, and exchanging knowledge and skills for a sustainable change in both availability of services and behavior that is consistent with facts on the ground. The detailed communication plans will be drawn out after an assessment of the communication needs.
24. The objective is to ensure that the assets created during the Program implementation phase are sustained and continue to yield benefits in the years to come. NPMU & SPMUs shall play key roles in ensuring that capacities at various levels shall be enhanced to make the program interventions self-sustainable. This will include both training and installation of the systems required to manage, inventory, and plan for maintenance.