The meaning of watershed refers to an area whose water flows towards a point. The planned use of this water can deliver better results. Related area may be a village or a group of villages in the form of a unit.
All kinds of land like agricultural, waste lands and forests may be included in this area. Maximum use of the land is possible by adopting watershed programme; The overall development with proper utilization of water in the area is considered to be watershed development.
The following benefits can be achieved by watershed development:
Notwithstanding a huge amount of expenditure made by the Government, (20 billions dollars by 2000) on watershed development, we have not been able to achieve desired results so far. The following factors are responsible for this:
Large areas of the country suffer from droughts and floods. Droughts and floods are two sides of the same coin. ‘National water Development Authority’ was constituted in 1982 to solve this problem. The main objects of its constitution was to identify only the national water network.
Finally National water Development Authority identified linkage of 30 rivers. Large rivers have mainly been included in this programme. Authority has recommended starting of work on 6 places of river linkages and their completion has to be carried out in three stages.
1st Stage: In the first stage, main peninsular rivers - Mahanadi, Godavary, Krishna and Kavery have been included.
2nd Stage: In the second stage, linking of small river basins of peninsular India have been recommended. Ken, Betwa and Par-Tapi rivers are included in this.
3rd Stage: In the third stage there is a provision for linking tributaries of Ganga and Brahmputras with one-another.
All round development of an area is possible by joining basins. The irrigation of about 250 lakh hectare additional agricultural area is possible by surface water after the success of this programme. Underground water will be available to irrigate additional agricultural area of about 100 lakh hectares.
With the result, irrigated area will increase from 1130 lakh hectares to 1500 lakh hectares. Additional hydro-electricity of about 340 lakh kilowatt will be generated. Besides these benefits, many other benefits like flood control, water transport, water supply, fishing, removal of acidity from the soil and control on water pollution will also be achieved. But these benefits can not easily be achieved. Much money and time has to be spent on these projects. According to an estimate a large sum of Rs 560 thousand crore are required to complete these projects.