Major Areas :: Watershed Management :: NWDPRA


National Watershed Development Programme for Rain fed Areas (NWDPRA) is a programme subsumed under Macro Management of Agriculture (MMA) Scheme of Department of Agriculture & Cooperation which has been amended for the XI Five Year Plan. The guidelines of the revised MMA are also applicable from the financial year 2008-09.

The NWDPRA was launched in 1990-91 in 25 States and two Union Territories and continues to be implemented during IX plan.  During the IX Plan it is proposed to treat an area of 2.25 million hectares at an estimated cost of Rs. 1030.00 crores. 


The broad objectives of the NWDPRA are

  • Conservation, development and sustainable management of natural resources including their use.
  • Enhancement of agricultural productivity and production in a sustainable manner.
  • Restoration of ecological balance in the degraded and fragile rainfed ecosystems by greening these  
      areas through appropriate mix of trees, shrubs and grasses.
  • Reduction in regional disparity between irrigated and rainfed areas.
  • Creation of sustained employment opportunities for the rural community including the landless


Sequence of activities and their operational modalities under NWDPRA would vary from situation to situation depending upon the status of land degradation, prevailing farming system practices in the selected watershed and prioritization of activities set by the watershed community. Hence, the instructions are made flexible to the extent that desired modifications could be considered at different levels, subject to the condition that provisions contained in the WARASA ANASAHABHAGITA Guidelines, Common Guidelines for Watershed Development Projects issued by the National Rainfed Area Authority (NRAA) and those approved for the Macro Management of Agriculture (MMA) scheme of Department of Agriculture & Cooperation


  • Treatment of non-arable lands for soil and moisture conservation and biomass production through afforestation, horticulture and pasture development.
  • Treatment of arable lands for better in-situ soil and moisture conservation and to enhance production through cost effective, sustainable and replicable cropping techniques with minimum infrastructure and soil conservation measures.
  • Adoption of alternate land use to prevent ploughing of steep slopes and thereby reducing runoff and soil erosion by taking up horticulture, silviculture and silvipasture.
  • Development of water resources and improve recharge of underground aquifers.
  • To increase the average income of small and marginal farmers and landless families through increased casual employment on marketable surplus of agricultural and dairy produce and by growing cash crops like vegetables.
  • To improve the social status and living standard of watershed inhabitants.

Under NWDPRA program, various soil and water conversation measures such as conservation of moisture, vegetative filter strips upstream of diversion drains, contour vegetation hedges supported by trenches/ridges or bunds with small cross-section on sloping areas have been performed. Gully control measures with vegetative support or supported with small structural measures wherever necessary, opening of contours dead furrows and contour cultivation has been done.


The projects will be implemented in the selected watersheds duly approved by the State Level Nodal Agency (SLNA) constituted by the State Government. For the XI Plan, watersheds selected and approved by the State Watershed Committee (SWC),as per WARASA JANASAHABHAGITA Guidelines for execution will continue for implementation during the Plan period.


The period of implementation of NWDPRA is five years.


At present different states are implementing the NWDPRA programme through different departments namely department of agriculture; department of watershed development; soil conservation department; land development corporation; etc. Likewise these departments are having their respective offices at the district level.  In some districts where the technology dissemination component of National Agriculture Technology Project (NATP) is operating, an autonomous agency namely Agriculture Technology Management Agency (ATMA) has also been established, recently.  Each state may accordingly identify a nodal department at the district level to carry out over all management and supervision of the programme
For this purpose, a Committee shall be constituted under the Chairmanship of District Head of the Nodal Department.

The Committee will consist of the following members

4 representatives from major line departments in the district.
1 representative from the NGO (to be rotated on annual basis).
1 representative from District Rural Development Agency (DRDA).
1 representative from nearby research organization / KVK.
1 representative from rural engineering department/Public Works Department (PWD)/irrigation department etc.

This Committee is a sub-committee of the District Watershed Committee and will be known as District Nodal Agency. This committee will meet once in a month.

The District Nodal Agency will carry out overall management and supervision of the programme including activities like identification of eligible PIAs, selection of new watersheds, approval of strategic plan of watershed, coordination of training activities for PIA,  WDT, office bearers of Watershed Committee (WC)/ Watershed Association (WA), coordination of exposure visits to successful watersheds, approval of Standard Schedule of Rates (SSR) for preparation of budget estimate (including preparation of any new SSR), administrative and financial approval of annual action plan, release of funds to PIA and WC, convergence of other schemes of different departments, taking vigilance actions against defaulters, monitoring and evaluation of programme etc. However, approval of District Watershed Committee will be taken regarding final selection of PIAs and selection of new watersheds.


This Committee may be chaired by District Collector or Chairman   of District Panchayat / Zilla Parishad.  The committee will meet on a quarterly basis.  Its members would be drawn from concerned district line departments, KVK, Autonomous Support Organization (ASO) in the district, selected PIAs from Government Organizations, Non-Government Organizations and peoples organizations; chairmen of selected Watershed Associations etc.  The committee would review the progress of the watershed project, assist in resolving management and administrative problems, guide in implementation, identify policy issues, if any, for reference to state and national committees. The Head of District Nodal Agency shall be the convener of this meeting. As discussed above this committee shall also accord approval regarding  selection of PIA and  watersheds.


  • Blocks having less than 30 percent assured means of irrigation in the arable land
  • Identification of priority micro watersheds
  • Identification of villages having prioritized watersheds based on acuteness of drinking water, preponderance of wastelands / degraded lands, extent of exploitation of ground water, contiguity of watersheds, willingness of community, non availability of assured irrigation etc.,
  • To ensure completion of targeted activities in the plan period
  • Watershed area of the NWDPRA projects should not overlap with any other developed/ongoing watershed projects funded by State Governments or any other agencies.


District Nodal Agency head prepare a list of all eligible villages in each block which could be considered under the watershed programme on the basis of  various parameters indicated above.  Afterwards prioritization of eligible villages may be done on the basis of objective weightage for each of the above parameters as approved by the District Watershed Committees (DWC).  At a given time the names of required number of prioritized villages (as per the available budget) may be announced through different channels so that interested Project Implementing Agency or village panchayats may respond accordingly.


The District Watershed Committee(DWC) shall be the authority competent to decide on the suitability for taking up the watershed development projects and selection of PIA would be made by DWC.Various organizations including line departments of the state government (agriculture, soil and water conservation, forest, watershed development), public sector undertakings such as Gujarat State Land Development Corporation Ltd.  (GSLDC), Uttar Pradesh Land Development Corporation (UPLDC) etc., non-government organisations, Panchayat Raj Institutions, research and training institutions, autonomous organizations created under NATP namely SAMETI, ATMA, etc. are eligible to be become PIAs. PIA shall be selected for each cluster of 2 to 10 watersheds. Based on DWC's recommendations the head of the District Nodal Agency shall link the PlAs and the villages giving due weightage to factors such as proximity, contiguity, previous linkages and preferences given by the PIAs and the villages.  The District Watershed Committee has the authority to cancel or modify these orders in the light of any changed circumstances


Average size of 1000 – 5000 hectares comprising of cluster of micro watersheds. The project area should be restricted to the net treatable area taking into account the hydro-geologic conditions to ensure their development to full potential after seeking fresh approval from the SLNA.


The major activities of the Watershed Development Projects will be sequenced into

  • Prepartory phase- 1 year
  • Works phase – 3 years
  • Consolidation and Withdrawal Phase spread over five years


Technologies under Watershed development programme can broadly be classified in  two types:

For development of natural resources – conservation and upgradation technologies
For enhancement of production and productivity of different commodities and combination of commodities production system technologies

Conservation Technologies

Conventional soil conservation technologies e.g. diversion drains, contour bunds with waste weirs / compromised contour bunds on lower field boundaries,  check dams and drop-structures are universally recommended, planned and implemented over large areas covering different ecological endowments.  Such measures are to be built upon indigenous practices like terraces in hilly areas and shelter belts in arid areas adjoining deserts and coastal sand dune regions.

Production Technologies

Production technology should blend short-term and medium-term benefits to meet the immediate needs of watershed community and long term needs of restoration of ecological balance. Also production technologies should consider the mixed farming systems of rainfed farmers in a holistic manner.


The cost norm of Rs. 4500 per ha for lands with less than 8 % slope and Rs.6000 per hectare for lands with 8% or more slope, a uniform cost norm of Rs.12000 per hectare has been approved by the Cabinet Committee of Economic Affairs for NWDPRA Watershed Programmes under Macro Management of Agriculture Scheme for the XI Plan.


Opening of Watershed Project Account

The WC shall open an account in the local branch of the bank in the name of "Watershed Development (Corpus) Fund".  This shall be a fixed deposit/interest bearing account and shall be operated jointly by the President of the Watershed Association, and the Project Leader of the WDT. Besides this 1.0 percent of the project cost shall be transferred by the district nodal agency to the above account as a corpus fund.  This amount shall be taken out of the community organization component retained by the district nodal agency.

Setting up of Watershed Development (Corpus) Fund

1% of approved project cost will be earmarked as ‘Corpus Fund’ to ensure suitable maintenance  of community  assets created in the  watershed  under  the project
The 1% project contribution will have to be matched by the contribution from the watershed community and partially from the State Government
This fund may be further augmented from the sale of produce from common  resources as well as borrowings from credit institutions as well as other sources of maintenance under Jawahar Rozgar Yojana, Panchayat Development Fund, etc



  • The quarterly, half yearly and annual progress reporting will be required to be submitted to the RFS Division of DAC within a fortnight of completion of the quarter, half year and the year
  • Web-based online progress monitoring as per the system designed by the RFS Division of DAC in collaboration with the National Informatics Centre (NIC) will continue.
  • The system of half yearly/ annual desk review of the programme in DAC will also continue for periodic monitoring of the programme.
  • The concurrent and post project evaluation of programme both by the State and the Government of India including the National Rainfed Area Authority will be taken up in sample watersheds as per the decision taken by the Department of Agriculture & Cooperation from time to time and in accordance with the Common Guidelines for Watershed Development Projects.

Benefits of NWDPRA:

  • Drought proofing
  • Erosion control
  • Increase in agricultural production.
  • Increased availability of fodder, fuel and timber.
  • Ground water recharge.
  • Creation of durable assets
  • Restoration of ecological balance.
  • Employment generation
  • Ensuring desired cropping intensity in rainfed agriculture.
  • Protection of the tableland and stabilization of gullies.