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Seminar focus on watersheds

A model shift in water management, with special focus on development of rain-fed areas, is on the cards during the 12th Five Year Plan Period.

This and more came out on Day One of a state-level workshop on natural resource management that was addressed by Mihir M. Shah, member of the Planning Commission, in Ranchi on Monday.

The workshop, titled “Role of corporates in natural resource management through the watershed approach”, is being jointly organised by the Jharkhand state watershed mission, in collaboration with the Jharkhand aluminium project (Hindalco) and Ranchi-based social organisation Citizens Foundation at a city hotel.

“Managing the eco-system in a sustainable manner has become a global challenge today. Hence, watershed management programmes are the need of the hour as they truly embody sustainability,” Shah said, addressing the 100-odd participants from government, NGOs and corporate houses who attended the first day of the workshop.

He added that in order to properly implement watershed management projects workers from government organisations, civil society and the corporate sector must work in tandem.

“The other important thing is, in order to achieve success in watershed projects, plans for location specific intervention should be drawn up. The onus of implementing a scheme should not be thrust at the top-level only. Instead the knowledge of local people should also be taken into account,” Shah said.

In short sustainability of natural resources, involvement of primary stakeholders and a sense of ownership among them would go a long way in capacity building, the Planning Committee member suggested.

“Rampant exploitation of groundwater to meet the demands of both urbanisation and industrialisation is depleting our water reserves fast. We need to involve the panchayati raj institutions in implementation of watershed projects,” Shah said.

Earlier, welcoming the participants to the workshop, principal secretary of state rural development department R.S. Poddar said Jharkhand was a rain-fed and food deficient state and it expected its corporate houses to chip in and help in improving into condition.

Picking the thread from Poddar left, B. Nijalingappa, the chief executive officer of the Jharkhand Watershed Mission, pointed out that proper planning by industries would encourage activities that sustain livelihood. “Though many corporate houses are doing their bit in this regard, a concerted effort will usher in a new era,” he opined.

Renewing his company’s commitment towards the cause, D. Bangabas, project head of Hindalco, said it was heartening to note that the Centre has been paying proper attention to the issue.