Major Areas :: Watershed Management :: Development Programme
arrow Tamil Nadu Watershed Development Agency (TAWDEVA)



Watershed is a geo-hydrological unit of an area draining to a common outlet point. It is recognized as an ideal unit for planning & development of land water and vegetation resources. According to 1999-2000 statistics a net sown area of 141.23 million hectare is under cultivation, out of which 84.58 million hectare is rainfed area.
Watershed Development as a means for increasing agricultural production in rainfed, semi-arid areas. There are nearly 85 million hectares of land as rainfed area in the country. These areas were bypassed by the Green Revolution and so experienced little or no growth in agricultural production for several decades. By capturing the Water Resources Management and improving the management of soil and vegetation, Watershed Development aims to create conditions conducive to higher agricultural productivity while conserving natural resources.


    • To mitigate the adverse effects of drought on crops and livestock.
    • To control desertification.
    • To encourage restoration of ecological balance and
    • To promote economic development of village community.

Water shed development originally managed by national wasteland development board under Ministry of Environment and forest .It is now placed under Ministry of Rural Development and Department of Land Resources. The main objective of this programme for development of waste lands in non-forest areas, checking of land degradation, putting such waste land into sustainable use and increasing bio mass, availability of fuel wood, fodder and restoration ecology etc. .Thus concept of watershed development is a integrated nurture with multi disciplinary activities in the area. At present Ministry of Rural Development and Department of Land Resources, Government of India funding watershed development programmes under D.P.A.P., D.D.P., and Integrated Wasteland Development Plan (I.W.D.P.) etc. This programme is intended to be taken up in rain-fed and drought-prone areas especially predominated by SC/ST population and preponderance of wasteland. There are six major projects/programmes in watershed development programme namely,

National Watershed Development Project for Rainfed Areas (NWDPRA)
Watershed Development in Shifting Cultivation Areas (WDSCA)
Drought Prone Areas Programme (DPAP)
Desert Development Programme (DDP)
Integrated Wasteland Development Project (IWDP)
Employment Assurance Scheme (EAS)

These six projects/ programmes also account for about 70 percent of funds and area under watershed programmes in the country.
Through various watershed development programmes, about 30 million ha. of land has so far been developed at an expenditure of Rs.9343 crores, including external funding upto the end of IX Five Year Plan. During X Five Year Plan about 11.4 million ha. is proposed to be developed at an outlay of Rs.7440 crore. Besides, an area of 1.24 million ha. is likely to be treated under watershed programmes at a cost of Rs.1872 crore through ongoing externa.lly aided projects.
Implementing Agency
The watershed programme is being carried out in desert, drought prone and rain fed areas. DRDA/Zilla Parishad selects the villages for development of watershed projects. Project implementation agency is also selected by DRDA / Zilla Parishad. Besides, DRDA / Zilla Parishad, there are other institutions through which this programme is being implemented like agricultural universities, research institutions, government under- takings, non-governmental organizations etc.

i) Local resident inside the of the watershed area.
ii) Poor families specially SC/ST persons in rain-fed areas where economic condition of the people is relatively less due to problems of less production, scanty rain and degradation of land.
iii)  Members of SHG and UGs.
iv) Usufruct right given to landless persons out of common resource management.
watershed development programme is peoples centered programme and peoples participation in the programme has been made mandatory. The people have to form a watershed association and watershed committee for each watershed project. Watershed association, comprising all adults residing within a watershed project area. The committee is responsible for planning and development of watershed project for its area while developing the plan for the area, the committee has to take technical assistance from project implementation agency. Besides, the beneficiaries of the programme have to give voluntary donations / provide contribution in terms of labour, raw material, cash etc. for development activities and for operation and maintenance of assets created.

Information available
About this programme, the detailed information is available with DRDA / Zilla Parishad
and Agricultural Department at District level and Panchayat Samiti at block level.

Funding Agency
The Ministry of Rural Areas and Employment, Government of India, funds watershed development schemes under Drought Prone Area Programme (DPAP), Desert Development Programme (DDP) and Integrated Watershed Development Programme (IWDP). 50 per cent of funds under the intensified Jowhar Rozgar Yojana (IJRY) and 50 per cent of Employment Assurance Scheme (EAS) are given for watershed development projects. Adding the state governments contribution under these centrally sponsored schemes it is expected that substantial funds would be available for watershed development projects. The funds are being made available at the rate of 4000 per hectare for the development of the area.

Activities Undertaken
The activities undertaken in these programmes include soil and moisture conservation measures like construction of check dams, water harvesting structures, desilting of village ponds, treatment of drainage lines/ gullies, land levelling, bunding of farms, treatment of problem soils, agro-forestry, agri-horticulture, silvi-pasture, organic farming, use of bio-fertilizers, value addition and marketing of produce through farmers groups, training & Capacity Building of stakeholders.

Land Treatment
(a) Soil and Moisture Conservation:
 Land leveling, graded binding, contour bonding, vegetative bonding, contour cultivation, drainage line treatment, gullies stabilization, gully plugging, percolation tanks and farm ponds.
(b) Afforestation:
Tree plantation in degraded forests, Panchayat lands, community lands, private lands etc.
(c) Pasture Development:
 In village community lands, pasture lands with suitable grass and fodder species.
Production Activities
Cropping Pattern

  • Introduction of suitable crops, improved crop varieties, inter-cropping, contour cultivation and crop management practices;
  •  Sericulture; 
  • Horticulture; 
  • Live stock development fodder cultivation, milch cattle distribution, establishment of milk co-operatives
  • Integration of other activities such as sheep rearing, fisheries, piggery, poultry, bee-keeping etc.

Employment Generation Activities

  • Creating more employment through land based and productive activities;
  • Raising backyard nurseries;
  • Wage earning through community assets creation such as community buildings, village roads etc.
  • Cottage industries based on bamboo, wood craft, cane craft etc.

Role of Panchayats
Planning: The Panchayats can extend their organizational help in providing adequate information about the local resources and the requirement of the people of proper planning of watershed programme for the area to project implementing agency.

Implementation: With practical solutions and helping the agency in smooth implementation of the project in the area, Panchayats can put their influence over beneficiaries to remain present in their respective fields at the time of land treatment activities. This will help the beneficiaries in the follow- up activity in maintaining the assets created and developing their lands with future prospects.
Local Panchayats, as per the terms and conditions should transfer the land and other common properties resources to the agency in advance for timely implementation of the conceived development programme. With regard to afforestation and pasture development activity in community lands, Panchayats can help the agency in selecting the species, of their choice for plantation and pasture development.
Formation of Watershed Committee: Panchayat should take the responsibility for assisting in constituting user / beneficiary committee in the watershed for their direct participation in the execution of the project.
Maintenance and Protection of Assets Created: the Panchayat should shoulder the responsibility of the assets created in the watershed area, such as gully structures, check dams, community forestry and pasture lands, Panchayat can adapt a well defined system on lines of Joint Forest Management.
Source :
Jaiswal (1997), Panchayat Unnati, Newsletter, NIRD, Hyderabad