KATHUA, SEPTEMBER 22 – District Kathua is fast emerging as the model for water conservation practices. The district has achieved this feat by taking recourse to the central and state government initiatives to incorporate the provision for widening the scope of water conservation / harvesting in several flagship programmes and schemes.
Under that initiative, the Rural development Department Kathua has popularize the scheme like MGNREGA to rejuvenate the natural resources of water like ponds, wells , Kuls and other traditional water bodies to at least fulfill the water needs of people and livestock as well as irrigation sustainability.
Deputy Commissioner Kathua Ramesh Kumar has prioritized the concept of water conservation and emphasized on creating awareness among masses regarding potential of water harvesting. He also opined for incorporating the provision of rain water harvesting while making structural designs of new buildings such as schools, panchayat ghars, community centres, anganwadi centres and health centres etc.
During the year 2015-16 and 2016-17 the department has taken up 182 works under renovation of ponds whereas 132 works has been taken up for constructing new ponds in across all 19 blocks of district Kathua. Out of total 19 blocks Gujroo Nagrota has renovated maximum no. of ponds i,e 18 whereas in Billawar and Duggan 10 ponds were renovated during the period with an estimated cost of Rs 24.36 Lacs . Out of total works taken up by the department expenditure to the tune of 110.064 lacs were incured for renovation of ponds whereas Rs 97.783 lacs were expended for constructing new ponds in the district.
The construction of new ponds were taken up by blocks wherein block Bani has distinguishly completed 23 Ponds at an estimated cost of 41.11 lacs whereas 20 ponds were created in block Barnoti with an estimated cost of 52.68 lacs. The block Basohli has contributed significantly by constructing 9 new ponds at an estimated cost of Rs 13.69 lacs during the year 2015-16 & 2016-17.
The extensive exercise of Rural Development Department for developing water conservation assets have yielded results in shape of 135 ponds covering over 270 hamlets benefitting a total populace of 7980 during 2015-16.
Assistant Commissioner Development Kathua Dr Sunil Sharma informed that besides a regular plan under MGNREGA the district has rolled out plan of Focus Areas under MGNREGA where construction of farm ponds and renovation of water bodies were prioritized. He disclosed that a total of 75 farm ponds with an estimated cost of Rs 343.50 lacs whereas 60 works under renovation of water bodies were taken up with an estimated cost of Rs 209.40 lacs during current financial year 2016-17 .
The Kathua District besides its varied topographical challenges has come up with it`s robust theme of water conservation/harvesting under the aegis of Rural Development department. Spreading to the stretch of 2651 sq kms consisting of 19 blocks having 244 panchayats and 512 villages, challenge of water sustainability was enormous keeping in mind the topographical character like hilly and kandi areas. The need was felt to opt better water conservation practices by building infrastructure besides saving the contemporary water assets like wells, ponds and kools.
The Rural Development Department has rolled out plan under MGNREGA to cover the vulnerable habitations either deprived of natural water bodies or not able to maintain the water assets. As many as 60 works costing Rs 209.40 lacs were taken up under renovation of water bodies in current year covering all 19 blocks of Kathua district to restore the traditional importance of local water bodies. Whereas, a total of 8 works to the tune of Rs 112 Lakh were provisioned in convergence plan under MGNREGA collaborated with IWMP.
Besides tapping the potential of water conservation, other means such as rain water harvesting can be best tool to sustain water needs during peak summers where the water table deplete very fast. The department has made an extensive roadmap to educate people about water harvesting. Rain water harvesting have huge potential as Kathua district witnessed good spell of rains resulting frequent flash floods which can otherwise be channelize by constructing check dams and other prevalent water harvesting techniques.
Besides this the Rural Development department held an extensive campaign involving PRI`s and women folks to sensitize people especially women to motivate all stake holders to be a part of this holistic water conservation campaign. Community leaders Sarpanchs , panchs and elderly members of communities were motivated to take part in projects like rejuvenation of ponds , kools , wells and other traditional water sources under MGNREGA which becomes a popular scheme among ruralities.
The department foresees this development to expand further by converging with more schemes of departments to become a model district in the field of taking reforms under water conservation/harvesting.