State stands first in works to conserve water: Minister

“The State has won the first prize in the country for taking up water conservation works,” Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister K.S. Eshwarappa said in Belagavi on Wednesday.

The Jal Shakti Abhiyan focuses on conservation of water in water-stressed taluks across the country.

The State has utilised several techniques such as rainwater harvesting, renovation of traditional and other water bodies and tanks and borewell recharge structures.

“We have taken up construction of over 72,000 farm ponds and 90,000 boulder checks. We have taken up recharge and rejuvenation of 4,000 open wells, 14,000 borewells and 286 temple kalyanis. The Centre has appreciated the State’s efforts in taking up Jal Shakti Abhiyan works through MGNREGA,” he said.

He was addressing gram panchayat workers at a conference organised by the Rural Development Department.

The State has completed work on 2.38 lakh of the 4.97 lakh water conservation projects since March this year. Over 40 lakh MGNREGA workers have made this possible. “I call them MGNREGA warriors,” he said.

“We are working towards the goal of Catch the Rain set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. We are following the guidelines that 65% of cost under MGNREGA should be utilised to conserve natural resources,’’ he said.

The department has spent around ₹2,900 crore on MGNREGA. Of this, 82% has been spent on Jal Shakti Abhiyan, the Minister said.

As many as 704 water harvesting structures and works on developing 55,000 tanks, removing silt and construction of lakes and cattle-animal holes are under progress. Over 1.12 afforestation works and 464 multi-arch check-dams and 1,262 other water percolation works have been taken up. The Union government has taken note of this, he said.

Such works have been taken up mainly in Tumakuru, Ramnagaram, Kalaburagi, Raichur and Belagavi districts. Similar works are also being taken up in other districts.

The department is organising training sessions for newly-elected gram panchayat members. “We have completed sessions in three districts already,” he said. He spoke at length about the duties of rural local body members and how their work in rural areas can help them develop a career in public life later.

Member of Legislative Council Mahantesh Kavatagimath, BJP district president Sanjay Patil, Principal Secretary Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Uma Mahadevan and others were present.

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