The Union Cabinet on 24 December 2019 approved the Atal Bhujal Yojana, a ₹6,000 crore scheme for sustainable management of ground water resources, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said. Atal Bhujal Yojana (ATAL JAL), a Central Sector Scheme with a total outlay of Rs.6000 crore to be implemented over a period of 5 years (2020-21 to 2024-25).

What
  1. The scheme aims to improve ground water management through community participation in identified priority areas in seven States, viz. Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh. 
  2. Implementation of the scheme is expected to benefit nearly 8350 Gram Panchayats in 78 districts in these States. ATAL JAL will promote panchayat led ground water management and behavioural change with primary focus on demand side management
  3. Out of the total outlay of Rs. 6000 crore, 50% shall be in the form of World Bank loan, and be repaid by the Central Government. 
  4. The remaining 50% shall be through Central Assistance from regular budgetary support. The entire World Bank’s loan component and Central Assistance shall be passed on to the States as Grants.
ATAL JAL has two major components:
  1. Institutional Strengthening and Capacity Building Component for strengthening institutional arrangements for sustainable groundwater management in the States including improving monitoring networks, capacity building, strengthening of Water User Associations, etc.
  2. Incentive Component for incentivising the States for achievements in improved groundwater management practices namely, data dissemination, preparation of water security plans, implementation of management interventions through convergence of ongoing schemes, adopting demand side management practices etc.
Background
  1. Ground water contributes to nearly 65% of total irrigated area of the country and nearly 85% of the rural drinking water supply. 
  2. The limited ground water resources in the country are under threat due to the increasing demands of growing population, urbanization and industrialization. 
  3. Intensive, and unregulated groundwater pumping in many areas has caused rapid and widespread decline in ground water levels as well as reduction in the sustainability of ground water abstraction structures. 
  4. The problem of reduction in ground water availability is further compounded by deteriorating ground water quality in some parts of the country. 
  5. The increasing stress on ground water due to over- exploitation, contamination and associated environmental impacts threaten to endanger the food security of the nation, unless necessary preventive / remedial measures are taken on priority.

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