The groundwater level recorded an average rise of 4.66 feet in 21 non-desert districts of Rajasthan after the execution of the Mukhya Mantri Jal Swavlambhan Abhiyan (MJSA) phase-I, a report said.
MJSA is a multi-stakeholder project, which aims to make the remotest of the villages in the state water-sufficient. The state government’s flagship programme converges operations of multiple departments working for conservation and storage of water, both under and above the ground.
The phase-I, executed between January and June 30 in 2016, covered 3529 villages. A total of 95192 water conservation structures were constructed and 28 lakh trees planted, said the report that assessed the impact of the project.
“An analysis conducted by an expert committee on groundwater recharge suggests that of 21 non-desert districts, 16 recorded rise in groundwater level. The average rise was 4.66 ft,” said Sriram Vedire, chairman of the Rajasthan River Basin and Water Resources Planning Authority.
“In the rest five districts, there had been no rise in groundwater level yet; but decline in the rate of groundwater depletion was recorded, which indicates a positive impact.”
Water level, he said, increased in the five districts – Jaipur, Alwar, Bharatpur, Dausa and Dholpur -- but the extraction was more than the recharge.
The impact of MJSA was gauged through a three-dimensional assessment process – supply side, demand side and socio-economic factor. “Phenomenal impact cannot be seen after one monsoon season. Average water level increase will be higher next year as last year’s moisture in the soil will be there. After three years, 100% groundwater level will be there,” Vedire said.
Apart from construction work for drip and sprinkler irrigation under MJSA programmes, improvisation in water distribution system has increased the cropping area to 46879 hectares during lean season.
Of 316 mcum (million cubic meter) water that was intercepted on the surface, 128 mcum was stored in mini and micro storage structures, such as tanks, anicut and check dams, and the rest 188 mcum was collected in watershed development works, Vedire said.
“In 2016, villages covered under MJSA were getting water supply by 54,938 water tankers, which reduced to 7,787 tankers – a 56.13% reduction.”
In the areas covered under MJSA, 6986 hand pumps went dry or were found defunct in the summer of 2016. In 2017, the number of dry hand pumps came down to 2022, he said.
MJSA also improved the working condition of tube wells, used for agriculture and drinking water needs. In 2016, the number of working tube wells was 57790, which increased to 58700 in 2017. The number of working wells increased from 46557 in 2016 to 47992 in 2017, the report said.
Phase-II of MJSA, which started in December 2016, covered 4213 villages. Under the project, 128991 water conservation structures were constructed and 60 lakh trees planted. The ongoing phase-III started in January this year covering 4268 villages; under it, 1,54,000 water structures will be constructed, Vedire said.