Soil Conservation Measures in India – Essay

While conceptual framework of soil and water conservation activities has been changed, concept of programmes has undergone considerable revision during successive Five Year Plans.

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The Centrally-sponsored Scheme of Soil Conservation in the catchments of River Valley Project (RVP) was started in third Five Year Plan. Subsequently another scheme of Flood- Prone Rivers (FPR) was started in the Sixth Five Year Plan keeping in view the magnitude of floods in the year 1978.

Now, both schemes have been clubbed together during Ninth Five Year Plan on recommendation of Expenditure Finance Committee and further subsumed under Macro Management Mode since November 2000.

Under the programme for the catchment management of River Valley Projects and Flood Prone Rivers, 53 catchments are covered, spread over 27 States. The total catchment area is 96.14 m.ha. With Priority Area needing urgent treatment in 26 m. ha. Out of this 5.69 m.ha. Have been treated till 2002-03 with an expenditure of Rs 1635.8 crores.

A Centrally-sponsored Scheme of reclamation of alkali soil was taken up in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh during the Seventh Five Year Plan. The scheme was further extended to the States of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan during the Eighth Five Year Plan. During Ninth Plan extension of the scheme to all other States of India was approved where alkali soil problems exist as per scientific parameter.

The scheme aims at improving physical conditions and productivity status of alkali soils for restoring optimum crop production. The major components of the scheme include, assured irrigation water on farm development works like land levelling, bunding and ploughing, community drainage system, application of soil amendment organic manures, etc.

An area of 0.60 m.ha. Out of 3.5 m.ha. Of alkali land has been reclaimed till the end of 2002-03 in the country. The scheme at present stands subsumed in Macro Management Scheme.

Another project for alkali land reclamation and development has been taken up in U.P. and Bihar with the help of EEC at an estimated cost of Rs 85.80 crore out of which Government of India’s share is Rs 6.88 crore. The project envisages reclaiming 15,000 hectares of alkali soils during its life span of seven years. An area of 30,825 ha. Has been redaimed till the end of 2000-01 (terminal year).

The scheme of Watershed Development Project in Shifting Cultivation Areas (WDPSCA) was launched in seven north-eastern States during the Eighth Plan from 1994-95 with 100 per cent Central assistance to the State Plan. The scheme aims at overall development of jhum areas on watershed basis. During Eighth Plan an amount of Rs 40.826 crore was released to the States -of north-east region and 0.67 lakh ha. Area was treated through treatment packages.

During Ninth Plan up to March 2002, 1.5 lakh ha. Have been treated with an expenditure of Rs 82 crore (against the approved programme and unspent balance of Eighth Plan).

The new guidelines of the scheme on the basis of new watershed to common approach has been effective from November 2000 in the revised cost norms of Rs 10,000 per ha. On net treatable area basis with additional activities and improved institutional mechanism. During Tenth Plan, an area of 0.2 lakh ha has been treated at an expenditure of Rs 20 crore up to 2002-2003.