INTRODUCTION

The Vision of the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh is to prepare the state as ‘drought proof’ state within 5 years and is aimed to eradicate of poverty and reducing economic inequalities by better Water Conservation. Water Conservation Mission Under primary sector mission is one of the seven missions constituted for invigorating the growth engines with the main objective being poverty alleviation.

Water Conservation Mission has been constituted by involving relevant line departments. Two aspects of the Mission are:

(1) Water Conservation, which would take into account the total rainfall, surface flow and the ground water and prepare a plan to make its optimum use by preventing wastage into the sea. The approach has to be from the ridge to the valley and the major departments to be involved in this exercise should be Irrigation, Forest, Rural Development and Ground Water.

(2) Water Management, which would require making most efficient use of the conserved water for various sectors of state economy and the major departments involved in this exercise, would be agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Horticulture, Fisheries, Rural and Urban Water Supply etc.

OBJECTIVE

It is necessitated to increase the irrigated area thereby reducing the gap ayacut to increase the agricultural productivity and to make the farmers’ livelihood sustainable. The Government of A.P has constituted the following seven missions to focus on the activities which are critical for the social and economic growth of the State and require the inter-departmental coordination.

The Government of Andhra Pradesh has taken up Water Conservation Mission Neeru Chettu Sub-Mission under Primary Sector Mission with a vision to make the State a drought proof State and to eradicate the poverty and to reduce economic inequalities by better “water conservation and sustainable management”.

Neeru Chettu is interdepartmental convergence activity among “water conserving departments viz., Irrigation, Rural Development, Ground water, Forest, APSAC and water utilizing departments viz., Agriculture, Horticulture, Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, RWS, Municipal Administration and Urban Development”.

The present ground water table has gone below 1000 feet in certain parts of the state which an alarming situation and drought prone. As a remedial measure to improve the ground water table, water conservation works are to be initiated immediately.

WHY NEERU-CHETTU

Ground water levels are depleted to a depth of 1000 feet below ground level in most of the areas and water levels are to be stabilized and improved.

Need to provide assured water supply to irrigation, drinking and industrial purposes.

Need to provide the lifesaving irrigation to drought prone areas especially Rayalaseema Region by providing mobile sprinklers if required.

Need to reduce the gap ayacut under Major, Medium and Minor irrigation projects by providing assured water up to tail end areas.

Need for scientific management of water resources to ensure more crop per drop of water.

Need for increasing the overall green cover in the State and ensure 33% of the forest cover against the current forest cover of 23%.

STRATEGY

Repairs and renovation of existing water harvesting structures and construction of new structures such as check dams, percolation tanks, MI tanks, sub-surface dams and farm ponds thereby increasing the ground water recharge.

Arresting the soil erosion by following the ridge to valley approach.

Repairs, renovation and de-silting of tanks by convergence with NREGA by utilizing State and Central Government funds. These works includes strengthening of Bunds, repairs to supply channels, weirs, sluices and distributary system.

Repairs and restoration of defunct LI schemes and construction of new LI schemes.

Development of cascades i.e. chain of tanks to divert water from surplus basin to deficit basin using latest GIS and satellite technology.

Encouraging micro irrigation on large scale and mobile micro irrigation practices in severe water scarce areas.

To take up 7 Nos of prioritized projects pertaining to Major and Medium Irrigation.

To take up the Plantation to increase the green cover and harvest rain water through massive afforestation and soil moisture conservation works and rising of nurseries by the Forest Department.

INSTITUTIONAL ARRANGEMENTS

Government of A.P has constituted a Group of Ministers G.O.Rt.No.2948 GA (Cabinet) Department dated 25.08.2014 for finalizing the guidelines for implementation of Neeru – Chettu Programme. As per the guidelines recommended by the GOM the Government have issued G.O.Ms.No.20 Irrigation &CAD ( WRG-GRC) Department dated 04-12-2014 duly mentioning the mission approach for activities /Projects. The constitution of the said mission is for the affirmed object of Swarna Andhra Vision 2029. In continuation with this, modalities have been worked out and mission structure, Mission Support Unit (MSU) and mission functioning have been prescribed.

Thereafter, vide Memo.No.10444 / WRG-GRC/ 2014-6, dated 30.09.2014, the guidelines were circulated to the District Collector and other relevant officers for taking immediate action. Consequentially G.O.Ms.No.70, dated 04.12.2014 was issued duly mentioning the objectives, strategies/ Approach, planning and execution. In this programme a separate institutional arrangement was established with a view to take up the works with transparency by involving the public / villagers on a large scale and to involve the Janmabhoomi Mavooru committees to the make the programme successful to fulfill the main objective of water conservation to make the State drought proof.

The following institutional arrangements are made duly involving all the departmental Officers and public at large.

  1. One Chief Engineer, Irrigation and CAD Dept., was appointed as implementing officer for each District for effective implementation of Neeru-Chettu.
  2. One Superintending Engineer, Irrigation and CAD Department, was appointed as Nodal Officer for each District to monitor the progress of Neeru-Chettu.
  3. One Executive Engineer, Irrigation and CAD Department was appointed as Divisional Officer for each Division to look after the progress of works.
  4. The Chief Engineer i.e. implementing Officers appointed the Deputy Executive Engineers as Constituency Officers and Assistant Engineer / Assistant Executive Engineers as Mandal Officers who are responsible for effective implementation of Neeru Chettu Programme at field level.
  5. The Identification and grounding of de-silting works under Neeru-Chettu will be done by a Mandal Team comprising all the officers of all line Departments at Village level.

The following works are proposed to be taken up under Neeru-Chettu programme with farmers contribution.

  1. De-Silting of Minor Irrigation Tanks and erstwhile PR tanks.
  2. Strengthening of tank bund with the silt generated from de-silting of tanks.
  3. Filling of low lying colonies areas with the silt generated from de-silting of tanks.
  4. De-silting of feeder channels, Supply channels and irrigation Channels.

One should appreciate that the NEERU-CHETTU PROGRAMME as this programme is entirely deviant from the routine nature of commercial contracts and are essentially in the nature of community based Programmes for the collective benefit of entire Village as a unit. The idea behind these Programmes is allotment of works through the Janmabhoomi Maavooru - Committee on no profit no loss basis. The way in which these works are taken up more particularly having regard to the rates at which they are being allowed, itself is indicative that the same are for general good of the public and for the community benefit.

The most important aspect that NEERU – CHETTU programme is a time bound Programme targeted to be completed before the onset of monsoons and as of now, most of the works are completed. Neeru-Chettu programme is a result of Policy Decision of the Government aimed at involving the people in the works by way of collective participation and simultaneously spreading awareness among them about rejuvenating and revitalizing natural resources. In Neeru-Chettu programme only de-silting of tanks and feeder channels, etc., are taken up with a view to conserve water and to create additional water storage, thereby avoiding wastage of water.

Neeru-Chettu Programme is a programme implemented with a view to improve water conservation and management in the State with peoples’ participation in order to make the state drought proof. These works are allotted to Janmabhoomi –Maavooru Committee with a view to avoid wastage of Government money and to achieve great benefits with low expenditure. The villagers have more responsibility and accountability as they will own these works and execute the same and also avoids all irregularities. The silt generated during the de-silting works was allowed to be transported by the local farmers by deploying tractors at their own cost for application of silt to agriculture fields. The farmers are also allowed to excavate the silt and transport at their own cost from any of the tank with prior permission from the concerned Executive Engineer.

This Neeru-Chettu Programme is also water Conservation work which will improve the storage capacities of tanks and in turn improve the Ground water table of the surrounding areas.

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