Centre approves Atal Bhujal Yojana to improve groundwater management

Policy matters this week
An irrigation well at Randullabad, Maharashtra. (Image source: India Water Portal on Flickr) An irrigation well at Randullabad, Maharashtra. (Image source: India Water Portal on Flickr)

Centre approves Atal Bhujal Yojana, worth Rs 6,000 crore
Considering the acute groundwater shortage in the country, the Union Cabinet has approved the Atal Bhujal Yojana with a total outlay of Rs 6,000 crore to manage the critical resources of water through multiple activities.

The scheme, that will be implemented over a period of 5 years (2020-21 to 2024-25), is expected to benefit 8,350 water-stressed villages across seven states - Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

The scheme envisages active participation of communities in various activities such as formation of water user associations, monitoring and disseminating groundwater data, water budgeting, preparation and implementation of gram panchayat-wise water security plans and awareness programmes. (The Times of India)

Environment ministry releases India State of Forest Report (ISFR) 2019
The Environment ministry has released the biennial report by the Forest Survey of India (FSI), which is an assessment of the country's forest resources. As per the report, the total tree-and-forest cover in the country includes an increase of 0.56 percent of forest cover and 1.29 percent of tree cover, compared to the 2017 report. Also, the top three states in terms of growing the maximum forest cover are Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. Along with this, the current assessment shows an increase of 0.19 percent of forest cover in 140 hill districts of the country. However, the north-east showed a decrease of forest cover to the extent of 0.45 percent in the region. (The Times of India)

Also, here is an in-depth review of the ISFR 2019 by several experts.

PAC pulls up Gujarat government for lack of drinking water facilities at government schools
After a detailed evaluation of the observations of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India on centrally-sponsored safe drinking water scheme ‘Jalmani’ in government schools, public accounts committee (PAC) has slammed the Gujarat government over the lack of good drinking water facilities at these schools. Moreover, the report informed that the state government’s nodal agency for the project, Water and Sanitation Management Organisation (WASMO) did not set any targets to provide safe drinking water in village schools and that the agency failed to spend the government funds for the Jalmani project. The PAC has now suggested that the state government must develop a permanent system to provide safe drinking water to children in all the government-run schools. (The Times of India)

Illegal mining causes pollution in Meghalaya: CAG
As per the performance audit of the operations of Meghalaya's mining department by the CAG, it was found that illegal, unregulated and indiscriminate mining is being carried out in various parts of Meghalaya causing serious air, water and environmental pollution in the state. The audit points out that the department allowed lessees to carry out mining activities without obtaining mandatory environmental clearance, forest clearance, wildlife clearance and non-renewal of no objection certificates from the Meghalaya Pollution Control Board. Further, among several critical observations, the report informed that the department did not comply with the directions of the National Green Tribunal. (Down to Earth)

First-of-its-kind water aerodromes to come up in Andaman & Nicobar Islands
As part of the ten water aerodromes that the Centre intends to develop, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) is planning to develop water aerodromes in Long Island, Swaraj Island and Shaheed Island in Andaman & Nicobar Islands, with a total investment of Rs 50 crore. The AAI is in the process of seeking green clearance from the environment ministry for preparing the Terms of References separately for the three airports. As per the expert appraisal committee, the proposed projects will provide employment to local people and also contribute in increase in level of current social infrastructural facilities of the islands. (Livemint)

This is a roundup of important policy matters from December 25 - 31, 2019. Also, read news this week.

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