New Delhi, Feb 17 : The Centre and the World Bank signed a $450-million loan agreement to support the national programme to arrest the country’s depleting groundwater levels and strengthen groundwater institutions, an official statement said here on Monday. The World Bank-supported Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABHY) – National Groundwater Management Improvement Programme will be implemented in the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Haryana, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh and cover 78 districts.
These states span both the hard rock aquifers of peninsular India and the alluvial aquifers of the Indo-Gangetic plains. They were selected based on several criteria, including degree of groundwater exploitation and degradation, established legal and regulatory instruments, institutional readiness, and experience in implementing initiatives related to groundwater management.
The programme will, among others, enhance the recharge of aquifers and introduce water conservation practices; promote activities related to water harvesting, water management, and crop alignment; create an institutional structure for sustainable groundwater management; and equip communities and stakeholders to sustainably manage groundwater. Sameer Kumar Khare, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance said that in India groundwater is an important source for rural and urban domestic water supplies and its depletion is a cause of concern. The Atal Bhujal Yojana intends to strengthen the institutional framework for participatory groundwater management and encourage behavioral changes at the community level for sustainable groundwater resource management.
The government will transfer a significant portion of the money (nearly 80 per cent) to local governments, including districts and gram panchayats, as incentives for achieving targets in groundwater management. The remaining funds will be used for providing technical support for sustainable management of groundwater and strengthening institutional arrangements in the selected states. The $450-million loan, from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a six-year grace period, and a maturity of 18 years. (UNI)