By: Prashanth Chintala
Mission Kakatiya has many facets. Though de-silting and restoration of village tanks is its main activity, the flagship programme of the Telangana government encompasses livelihoods, food security, cultural, and environmental components.
Conceived by Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao, the programme caught the attention of various institutions and became a case study for the IIT-Hyderabad, Birla Institue of Technological Sciences, universities of Chicago and Michigan, and the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development, among others.
The International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics (Icrisat) had conducted studies on its impact in Medak and Warangal districts. In Medak, Icrisat had found that application of sediment de-silted from the tanks to agricultural fields to be an economically viable option for increasing nutrient availability and enhancing crop production.
In Warangal, the study stated that the application of silt to fields resulted in savings on fertiliser and pesticides ranging from ₹2,500 to ₹3,750 per hectare in case of cotton crop, while the increase in yield was to the tune of 1,000 kg a hectare.
Other States like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have also evinced interest in the programme. While a team from the Water Resources Department of Maharashtra already visited the State, Tamil Nadu indicated that it would also send a team to study the mission’s scope and execution.
On the other hand, the State’s Groundwater Department conducted an independent research on various impacts of the initiative. It found that there was a significant rise in groundwater level wherever the tanks were restored.
Not just water, soil, and crops, restoration of tanks is also paving way for the promotion of pisciculture on a large scale by the State government. According to the Irrigation Minister T. Harish Rao, who is spearheading the programme, fishermen alone were expected to get an income of ₹1,500 crore to ₹2,000 crore annually from this initiative.
As tanks are the main water sources and the lifeline of rural communities, villagers in large numbers are participating in the programme. Many others poured in funds or adopted tanks in their villages.
For instance, corporates, employee organisations and individuals have so far donated ₹17.15 crore for the mission. The highest contribution of ₹8.78 crore was made by the employees of the State government organisations, followed by a contribution of ₹ 3.05 crore by Hetero Drugs.
The other corporates which contributed to the scheme are Symed Labs (₹1.5 crore), Balaji Amines (₹50.55 lakh), Gland Pharma (₹50 lakh), and Aurobindo Pharama and Shodhana Labs (₹25 lakh each). These apart, Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India donated ₹80.5 lakh, BVRIT College of Engineering gave ₹50 lakh and an NRI Dr. Pailla Malla Reddy has given ₹50 lakh.
Of course, these contributions are negligible compared to what the State government is spending on the programme. Chief Engineer of Minor Irrigation B. Nagender Rao said that the government had sanctioned ₹5,700 crore for the revival of 17,000 tanks in two phases and about ₹1,800 crore has already been spent for the purpose.
The mission envisages restoration of a total of 46,531 minor irrigation tanks in a phased manner in five years at a rate of around 9,306 tanks a year. In the first two phases, about 11,000 tanks were stated to have been restored and over 13 crore cubic metres of silt was removed from tanks’ surface.
For the execution of Mission Kakatiya, the State government had chalked out a detailed plan. The Indian Remote Sensing satellite has been leveraged to develop geo-database of tanks across the State. A dedicated website for the project has been created to ensure transparency. While the Irrigation Department went ahead with rejuvenation of tanks, the Forest Department was stated to have played a supporting role by planting trees on the bund, and the Revenue Department worked with stakeholders for marking of foreshore lands along the banks.
Overall, experts say, effective implementation of the programme would transform the rural economy generating multiple income sources for locals and prevent their migration to urban centres.
Source: The Hindu