Minister for Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Law and Justice, Abdul Haq today directed the officials to prioritize works under Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) for conservation of water resources.
Abdul Haq directed the officials to lay stress on water conservation by constructing small dams and water harvesting tanks in upper belts of villages to tap water for future use besides construction of check dams and percolation tanks. Minister was speaking during a meeting convened to review the IWMP.
Secretary RDD Nirmal Sharma, Director RDD Kashmir Gazanfar Hussain, Director Rural Sanitation, CEO IWMP, Deputy Director Planning Shabir Ahmad besides sectoral officers of IWMP were present in the meeting.
Minister said the aim of IWMP is to save every drop of water that falls on earth coordinated efforts are needed to move forward in its mission. He said works should not be repeated as similar types of works are taken under MGNREGA, Irrigation or Agriculture Department.
Laying stress on creation of productive assets under IWMP, he said the works being executed under the program should not benefit an individual but should be beneficial for the larger section of society. HE said vested interests should not be allowed to hijack our works at grass root level by suggesting construction of protection bunds which had become a norm in past. He said protection bunds should be constructed only in case of exigency where there is threat of erosion or flood that may harm local population.
Minister said aim of IWMP is to treat land to increase water table and convert barren land into cultivable land. He said the department will make short term missions to reach to the larger goal and hence the works will be prioritized according to needs. He said there is huge capacity of building irrigation dams in mountainous terrains of the state which can be used to tap flowing water and channelized for irrigation as well as drinking purpose.
He said the dams will help in rain water harvesting besides conserving Soil & moisture while natural vegetation will also grow around the dams. Minister said in next phase the department will take other steps to achieve goal in consultation with the experts. He said prioritizing works will help in achieving the target effectively as department will have thrust on same type of works at the given point of time that will save expertise.
The minister said the IWMP should not be confused with MGNREGA as the aim ogf MGNREGA is to provide jobs while the primary purpose of IWMP is to conserve soil and water and directed the officials to make use of scheme effectively so that water is conserved for present as well as future generation.
He said like other schemes, we can’t expect immediate results in IWMP but it will benefit the public in long run and our next generation benefit from it.
He said IWMP will help in restoring ecological balance by harnessing, conserving and developing natural resources i.e. land, water, vegetative cover. He called for sustained community action for the operation and maintenance of assets created and further development of the potential of the natural resources in the watershed.
Abdul Haq asked officers to avoid concrete constructions for dams and tanks and instead stressed on simple, easy and affordable technological solutions and institutional arrangements that make use of, and build upon, local technical knowledge and available materials.
Minister said there are certain irrigation dams in state that have been constructed hundreds of years ago by our forefathers and we are still making use of it and no rocket science is involved in construction of those dams.
The Minister also reviewed the functioning of Swach Bharat Mission. Minister was informed that the program is being implemented in all the districts of the state. Officials said out of 7519 villages , 190 villages have been declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) and 635 villages are at saturation mode adding that the 100 percent target will be achieved by the year 2019.
Minister was informed that 26 blocks will be made ODF within two months. Furthermore the department will construct four lakh Individual Household Latrines (IHHL) during the current financial year while 7.57 lakh IHHLs will be covered by the end of year 2019. Officials said 3.21 lakh IHHLs have been covered till date covering 3.20 lakh households.
Regarding the Solid Waste Management, Minister said the biggest challenge for the government is the management of solid waste. He said numerous initiatives have been taken by the department for the purpose. He said many pilot projects have been initiated in many Panchayats and if successful, will be replicated in other villages. He said on the department will construct garbage sheds in one Panchayat of each district on pilot basis. He said in first, 22 such sheds will be constructed to manage the solid waste of the Panchayats.