A Rural Development Ministry scheme meant for development of rain-fed and degraded areas through participatory watershed approach will now be a flagship programme of the central government. In its meeting last week, the Union Cabinet approved a proposal mooted by Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh to treat Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) as a flagship scheme of the central government. According to Ramesh, the programme will be an effective tool to address problems of rain-fed/degraded areas in the country. "About 60 per cent of cultivated area in the country is rain-fed.
These areas are also the hot-spots of poverty, water scarcity, low productivity, malnutrition and prone to severe land degradation," he said. The major activities undertaken under IWMP inter alia include entry point activities that are taken up to address the urgent needs of the people. Other activities inter alia include ridge area treatment, drainage line treatment, soil and moisture conservation, rain water harvesting, nursery raising, afforestation, pasture development, horticulture, livelihood activities for the asset-less persons and production systems and micro-enterprises for small and marginal farmers. The IWMP emphasises utilising IT, remote sensing techniques, GIS facilities with spatial and non-spatial data, into planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the projects. According to officials, the cost norm under IWMP has been enhanced to Rs 15,000 per hectare in difficult and hilly areas, upto Rs 15,000 per hectare in Naxal-affected districts and Rs 12,000 per hectare in other areas. The cost of the project would be shared in the ratio of 90:10 between central and state governments.