Port Blair, Sep 12: On 11th September 2023, Mrs. Veditha Reddy, IAS, Secretary, Department of Rural Development launched the implementation of Project “Water Security and Climate Adaptation in Rural India (WASCA)” in Andaman and Nicobar Island during the Launch workshop and Training programme held at Directorate of RD, PRIs &ULBs, A&N Administration, Marine hills.
The WASCA project is an Indo-German Bilateral project commissioned by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development in partnership with the Ministry of Rural Development and Ministry of Jal Shakthi, Government of India. The GIZ, New Delhi has been implementing it in 15 agro-climatic zones across 17 states of India including Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Union Territory) covering an Island Agro-climatic Zone. To implement the project two districts, i.e. South Andaman and Nicobar, have been selected in the first instance. The Gram Panchayat based water resources management planning will be completed and piloted in these two districts from Sep 2023 to October 2025.
The main goal of the project is to improve water resource management harmonized with land, vegetation and climate change to develop sustainable natural resources management and productivity enhancement models in the respective agro-climatic zones. WASCA aims to support in co-creating innovative models for Island communities leveraging MGNREGS and schemes from other line departments through convergence.
The Workshop was attended by the Officers of Rural Development, Forest Department, Agriculture Department, Fisheries Department, AH&VS Department, APWD and CIARI. The Pradhans of different Gram Panchayats and MGNREGA staff of South Andaman & Nicobar District have attended the workshop physically as well as virtually through VC.
Mr. Krishan Tyagi, Project Manager, WASCA, GIZ, India, New Delhi briefed about the increasing climate risks and necessity to implement suitable climate resilient measures and how scientific GIS based planning will support holistic development. The experiences from the coastal state of Tamil Nadu will help in the resolution of island natural resources management. Dr.R.Rengalakshmi, Director, Ecotechnology, M S Swaminathan Research Foundation, explained the models and impacts of the WASCA I project implemented in Ramanathapuram District, a coastal ecosystem in Tamil Nadu. She also shared the draft plan made for the Gram Panchayat Mithakhali under Ferrargunj Block of South Andaman to pilot the project.
While addressing the gathering, Mrs. Veditha Reddy, IAS, Secretary (RD) highlighted the scarcity of drinking water from January to May in many of the islands. She stressed the importance of water conservation in the islands adopting scientific and convergence approaches and making A & N Islands as “Water Surplus region”.
Mr. Birendra Chaudhary, IFS Deputy Conservator of Forest, Dept of Environment and Forest expressed that since more than 80 per cent of the land is under forest cover, relevant soil and water conservation measures need to start from that upper slopes and Department of Forest will extend necessary support to the Gram Panchayats. Dr. Eknath B Chakurkar, Director, CIAR- Central Island Agricultural Research Institute (CIARI) recommended that both soil and water conservation methods should go together. He highlighted how different land, soil and water conservation technologies in the CIARI campus improved the water resources. Mr. Vikram Singh, Director, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries showed a prototype to harvest the rainwater at the household level using a simple filter based device. He sought the technical support of CIARI and GIZ-India to fine-tune such innovative technologies. He also extended his support in implementing the water resources management plan in the Islands. Mr. Abhishek Bhukal, Director (in-charge), dept of Rural Development appreciated the WASCA framework in augmenting water resources. The Block Development Officers, Assistant Engineers (MGNREGA) and Gram Rozgar Sewaks (MGNREA) from South Andamans and Nicobar districts participated in training programmes in both physical and virtual mode