Over Rs 1,000 Cr released under NPCA for conservation of 157 wetlands across country: Govt

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New Delhi, Mar 19 (PTI) Over Rs 1,000 crore have been released for the conservation of 157 wetlands in the country under the National Plan for Conservation of Aquatic Eco-systems (NPCA), the government informed Parliament on Friday.

In a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha on whether the number of lakes has declined substantially across the country over the last few years, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said rapid urbanisation, development activities and anthropogenic pressures do stress water bodies.

On government schemes to save, conserve or revive such lakes, he said the Centre has so far released Rs 1,039 crore for the conservation of 157 wetlands in the country under the NPCA.

'Under the NPCA scheme, the central assistance is based on the proposals received from the state governments, in conformity with the guidelines and budget availability. Accordingly, so far, MoEFCC has sanctioned projects for conservation of 157 wetlands in the country and released an amount of about Rs 1,039 crore as central share,' the minister said.

The NPCA is a single conservation programme for both wetlands and lakes. It is a centrally-sponsored scheme, currently being implemented by the environment ministry, and was formulated in 2015 by merging of the National Lake Conservation Plan and the National Wetlands Conservation Programme.

'Rapid urbanisation, developmental activities and anthropogenic pressures do stress water bodies.

'Various departments in the central government and the state governments are engaged in restoration, conservation and preservation of lakes and wetlands. Works related to water resources development and management are planned, funded, executed and maintained by the state governments themselves as per their own resources and priorities,' Javadekar said.

He said the ministry is implementing the NPCA for the conservation and management of the identified wetlands, including lakes, in the country on a cost-sharing basis between the Centre and the respective states.

'The scheme covers various activities such as interception, diversion and treatment of waste water, shoreline protection, lake front development, in-situ cleaning i.e. desilting and de-weeding, storm water management, bioremediation, catchment area treatment, lake beautification, survey and demarcation, biofencing, fisheries development, weed control, biodiversity conservation, education and awareness creation, community participation etc.

'Further, in order to supplement the efforts of the state governments, the Ministry of Jal Shakti provides technical and financial assistance to the state governments to encourage sustainable development and efficient management of water resources through various schemes and programmes such as Surface Minor Irrigation (SMI), Repair, Renovation and Restoration (RRR) of Water Bodies Schemes etc. under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (PMKSY) -- Har Khet Ko Pani (HKKP),' the minister said.

The Repair, Renovation and Restoration (RRR) of Water Bodies scheme mainly aims at expanding the cultivable area under assured irrigation by improvement and restoration of water bodies, thereby increasing the tank storage capacity and reviving the lost irrigation potential, along with other objectives such as improving water use efficiency, ground water recharge, increased availability of drinking water, improvement of catchment of tank commands etc. The water bodies included under the scheme are encroachment-free.

Javadekar said the scheme covers rural water bodies with a minimum water spread area of five hectares and urban water bodies with a water spread area from two to 10 hectares.

'Under the RRR of Water Bodies scheme, since 12th plan onwards, 2,228 water bodies are covered with an estimated cost of Rs 1,914.86 crore.

'Central Assistance (CA) of Rs 433.9 crore has been released to states up to March, 2020. Further, 1,465 water bodies have been reported to be completed up to March, 2020. Target irrigation potential restoration of these schemes is 1.89 lakh Ha and out of this, 1.319 L Ha is reported to be restored till March, 2020. In the current financial year, Rs 35.79 crore have been released to the RRR of Water Bodies scheme till date,' the minister added. PTI AG RC