ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Practitioner’s Perspective on the JSA

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The Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyan (JSA), the government’s flagship programme launched in 2015, had the objective of making 25,000 villages in Maharashtra drought-free by 2019. Yet, four years on, the spectre of drought continues to haunt Maharashtra and thousands of villages continue to receive drinking water by tankers during the summer months. This mismatch between lofty ambition, its implementation and ground reality has led to serious debates, controversies and legal interventions. A case in point is the recent article, “Can Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyan Prevent Drought in Maharashtra?” by Neha Bhadbhade et al (EPW, 22 June 2019). Having worked in the area of drought mitigation and natural resources management as practitioners and researchers for over 25 years, we have the following observations on the JSA and suggestions to improve the quality of its implementation.

As the JSA is a one-year, time-bound programme and demand-driven—as compared to the Integrated Watershed Management Programme—work is speeded up, capturing the continuous attention of the community. The short project period ensures constant follow-ups by senior and ground-level officials; a good push by the administration without long fund delays. Using the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, which has the financial provision ratio of 60% (unskilled village labour): 40% (skilled cement water harvesting structures), to do the soil conservation work extensively, the JSA provides the opportunity to speed up water harvesting drainage line treatments. Desilting of water harvesting structures, and deepening and widening of streams, when done in a technically sound manner as highlighted by the Johny Joseph Committee and other experts, certainly have the potential to harvest a good amount of rainwater quickly in areas prone to drought. Importantly, the strength of the JSA is in achieving convergence, allowing the government, corporates, non-governmental organisations and the community to bring together from each one’s strengths to address water scarcity.

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Updated On : 19th Jul, 2019

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