The Government of India and the World Bank signed a $450 million loan agreement to support the national programme(Atal Bhujal Yojana) to arrest the country’s depleting groundwater levels and strengthen groundwater institutions. The $450 million loan, from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a 6-year grace period, and a maturity of 18 years.
Atal Bhujal Yojana
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 programme will introduce a bottom-up planning process for community-driven development of water budgets and Water Security Plans (WSPs).
- Water budgets will assess surface and groundwater conditions (both quantity and quality) and identify current and future needs.
- The WSP, on the other hand, will focus on improving groundwater quantity and incentivize selected states to implement the actions proposed.
- The Yojana can be divided largely into two segments – one is in institutional capacity and the other involves incentivizing states.
- The Programme will support on-ground actions that are based on community ownership and judicious management of water resources.
- It is to be implemented over a period of 5 years (2020-21 to 2024-25).
- The former will include efforts to increase the capacity for sustainable groundwater management, strengthening of water user associations etc.
- The latter will reward states for improved data dissemination on groundwater, preparing water security plans, converging multiple schemes and so on.
- The scheme is an updated and modified version of the Groundwater Management and Regulation scheme which is in force since 2013.
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.
Criteria for selecting these states
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.
Significance of the project
- 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.