SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION PROGRAMMES

           The Department of Soil Survey & Soil Conservation is playing a lead role in catering to the soil and water conservation requirements of the State and serves as the information hub for scientific and reliable information on soil and land resources and formulates and implement various soil and water conservation projects by optimizing the natural resource utilization by adopting scientific land use as per land capability for ensuring soil health. The soil and land resource inventory of each area carried out by the Department will provide necessary scientific data for adopting suitable soil and water conservation measures for each microenvironment to prevent soil erosion, to bolster the ground water recharge and to invigorate the agricultural sector by enhancing the soil fertility status and the ultimate aim is augmentation of agricultural productivity. The creation and updation of the scientific database on soil and land resources through various kinds of Soil Surveys and formulation and execution of developmental programmes at micro and macro level is one of the major mandate of the department.

                 The Department of Soil Survey & Soil Conservation has been involved in the formulation & implementation of various Soil and Water Conservation Programmes since first plan period. Controlling run-off to minimize silt yield from unit land and promoting in situ moisture conservation for ground water recharge are the basic propel of any soil and water conservation programme. Thrust is given for undertaking projects which result in the improvement of the microecosystem in terms of ecological, meteorological, agricultural, environmental and social aspects concerned.

 This Organization upholds "Watershed Approach" for realizing the perspective of sustainable and holistic development. The major thrust areas in implementing various soil and water conservation programmes include

Ø   Conservation of soil and water resources on watershed basis with a view to sustain Agricultural Production and to rejuvenate the ecosystem. Promotion and propagation of eco-friendly and cost effective conservation measures adopting watershed principles.

Ø   To develop suitable strategies for rainfed farming by adopting rainwater harvesting through participation of the people and people’s representatives for potential development of watersheds and promotion of farming system approach for augmenting the income of farming communities.

Ø   To prevent Soil erosion and runoff from the watershed with a view to prevent premature siltation of multipurpose reservoirs and also to reduce flood peaks and volumes of runoff.

Ø   Check the silting up of natural water bodies, drainage courses, reservoirs, paddy fields etc.

Ø   Stabilize and develop land slide/slide prone areas.

Ø   Generate rural employment on a regular basis as a result of the soil and water conservation projects implementing throughout the state thereby enhancing the socio-economic status of the people of that locality.

Ø   Awareness creation among the public on the need for conservation of natural resources for the future generations.

Ø   Rejuvenation of polluted and unproductive ecosystem considering all means for the holistic development of the area.

The major state plan schemes and special schemes implemented by the Soil Conservation wing of the Department are listed below:-

A. STATE SECTOR SCHEMES

1.         Soil and Water Conservation on Watershed Basis (RIDF)

2.         Stabilisation of Landslide Areas

3.         Protection of Catchments of Reservoirs of Water Supply Schemes

4.         Training Programme for Departmental Staff and Others

5.         Application of Information Technology

6.         Revival of Traditional Waterbodies

7.         Development of Microwatersheds

B. SPECIAL SCHEMES UNDER IMPLEMENTATION UTILIZING FUNDS   RECEIVED   FROM OTHER AGENCIES

1.         Rebuild Kerala Initiative

2.         Infrastructure Development to augment cool season vegetable and temperate fruit production  in Kanthalloor and Vattavada Grama Panchayat of Idukki district.

3.         Tribal Schemes

4.         Jilla Panchayat Schemes

C. CENTRALLY SPONSORED SCHEMES

1.        Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yogana (RKVY)

2.        Pradhan Manthri Krishi Sinchayee Yogana (PMKSY)

Soil and Water Conservation on Watershed Basis – RIDF (NABARD assisted)  

The Department has been implementing infrastructure development projects availing assistance under the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund of NABARD with a view to create required infrastructure backup for land development under various projects. Watershed based Projects and Projects for Drainage Protection and Flood Control are taken up under this sector. The main objective of the scheme is to bring improved and sustainable agricultural productivity in identified watershed area by adopting scientific soil and water conservation activities .The contribution of the projects for enhancement of ground water recharge, mitigation of floods and moderation of droughts in the watersheds are quite substantial.

Currently, the Department is implementing two types of Projects viz. Soil and Water Conservation Projects on Watershed basis and Drainage and Flood Prone Area Protection Schemes. Stone pitched Contour bunds, Graded bunds, Moisture Conservation Pits, Contour/ Staggered/ Bit Trenches for rain water harvesting, Side pitching, Water Harvesting Structures, Farm ponds, Dug out Ponds Retaining Wall, Check Dams Agrostology measures, Live Fencing, Agro forestry etc are the major Soil and Water Conservation interventions taken up under the Watershed Projects. Proper blends of these measures are adopted for achieving aforesaid objectives pertaining to individual Projects.

The Drainage and Flood Prone Area Protection Schemes are generally implemented in the waterlogged paddy fields of Alappuzha, Kottayam and Thrissur districts. These projects aim at the betterment of the local production environment of the concerned areas by providing the required basic infrastructure. Moderation of Floods and related damage, control of saline intrusion are the major areas the Projects attend to for facilitating increased productivity. Paddy is the main target crop. Major items of works taken up under these Projects include Retaining Walls, Sluice, Tractor Bridge with Ramp, Steps, Foot Slabs, Bank Stabilisation with vegetative measures etc.

Land development projects/watershed/Drainage & Flood Protection projects are prepared based on priority required for conservation and location specific request received from farmers, farmers association and representatives of local bodies. These project are approved by Government and NABARD and implementation carried out in a phased manner within a period of 3-4 years.

The Department has so far taken up 489 projects under RIDF tranche I to XXII in the State for treating an area of 2.74 lakh hectare in the State. Works are now progressing in  schemes under tranche XIX, XX, XXI & XXII.

Subsidy Pattern

Irrespective of holding size the farmers are given 90% subsidy for arable land conservation works and 95% subsidy is provided for drainage line treatment works& works carried out in common land. For SC/ST beneficiaries, the subsidy given is up to 95% of the total investment.

Stabilisation of Landslide Areas

The Scheme envisages scientific Soil and Water Conservation/management for the stabilisation/reclamation of the land slide prone/affected ecosystems in the hilly terrains of the State. The projects help to stabilize/restore natural ecosystems prone to /affected by phenomena like landslide, landslip etc. This scheme provides 100% financial assistance to the concerned beneficiaries. The scheme has been implemented in selected districts on need basis.

The major works proposed through these schemes are Graded bunds, Agrostology, vettiver planting, diversion channels for the safe disposal of water, stubble mulching, coir geotextiles etc. Projects are now ongoing in Pathanamthitta, Idukki, Kottayam, Wayanad, Palakkad & Kozhikode districts under the scheme.

Subsidy

           100% subsidy is provided to the beneficiaries.

Protection of the Catchment of Reservoirs of Water Supply Schemes

The Department has also been giving thrust to protect the catchment of reservoirs of drinking water schemes in Aruvikkara, Sasthamkotta and Peruvannamoozhi with a view to prevent soil erosion and protect to the reservoir from siltation. The works proposed would help in the eco regeneration of the catchment. Various location specific conservation interventions like Stone pitched Contour/Graded bunds, Moisture Conservation pits, Terracing, Stream bank stabilization structures, Retaining Walls etc are carried out for the protection of the catchements.  Works are being implemented in Puthukulangara watershed, Sasthamcotta catchment Part (Unit 4, 22 &23) and Kakkayam watershed  in a phased manner subject to the budgetary availability.

Subsidy

           100% subsidy is provided to the beneficiaries.

Training Programme for Departmental Staff and others

The training and extension centre of Soil Conservation viz. Institute for Watershed Development and Management, Kerala (IWDM-K) at Chadayamangalam has been imparting the required know-how in the field of Participatory Integrated Watershed Management and the principles and practices of integrated scientific soil and water conservation treatments to various target groups including selected people's representatives of the local self governments. Also the Centre takes care to impart necessary refresher coaching to the Department staff for improving the service quality of this Government organization. All these trainings are helpful in equipping a considerable cross section of the society with adequate knowledge in the principles and practices of Integrated Watershed Development exercise.

Besides, the Centre been designated as the Programme Study Centre (PSC) for the conduct of one year Diploma course on Watershed Management, one year Post Graduate Diploma course in Plantation Management and six months certificate course on Water Harvesting and Management  in collaboration with IGNOU. Five batches of 144 students have undergone Diploma course on Watershed Management, three batches of 25 students have completed certificate course in Water Harvesting & Management  at the Institute. One batch of 11 students  will be completing Post Graduate Diploma in Plantation Management at IWDM-K, Chadayamangalam during July2017.

Application of Information Technology

As a part of the promising initiatives from the Government of Kerala in the area of e‑governance, the Soil Conservation Department too has expedited necessary steps to bring all its subordinate offices under a computer network. Minimum required no. of computer systems have been installed in all the Soil Conservation Offices and it has proved to be very effective in improving the service quality and efficiency of the department. NIC has developed the required software for facilitating online monitoring of activities for the Department. Monitoring & Evaluation of Soil and Water Conservation Projects is also a component under this scheme.

Revival of traditional water bodies

The Department is also implementing a scheme for the revival and development of the traditional water bodies, springs and various drainage courses for augmentation of ground water potential and mitigating the severity of drought faced by the agricultural sector. Under this project, activities for revival of traditional water bodies, thalakulams, springs etc with the objective of harvesting maximum rain water for agricultural and domestic purposes are being taken up. The treatment of various drainage courses, tributaries/ rivulets of major rivers, areas requiring special treatments like critical/ semi critical blocks with respect to status of ground water potential etc is also carried out by adopting scientific soil and water conservation methods.

Development of micro watersheds

In the post flood/post landslide scenario in most of the districts the conservation of soil and moisture has assumed great importance. The state needs to work towards mitigating and containing the ill-effects of soil erosion and work in a coordinated manner towards conservation of soil and water resources. At the same time we need to work towards building productive and sustainable enterprises through micro watershed development. Hence a new scheme viz. Development of Micro watersheds was sanctioned to the Department for undertaking microwatershed based development through soil and water conservation activities in Taliparamba constituency of Kannur district and Kattakada constituency of Thiruvananthapuram district.

Rebuild Kerala Initiative (RKI) Schemes

The Department of Soil Survey & Soil Conservation had proposed a project for Eco-restoration of 58000 hectare of worst affected by floods of 2018 in the State at an estimated cost of Rs.320 crore through eco-friendly conservation measures under Rebuild Kerala Initiative (RKI). As the first phase of this, Administrative Sanction has been received for the for the implementation of the project viz. “Eco-restoration of Flood/Landslide Affected Areas in the State through Soil and Water Conservation Measures” at an estimated cost of Rs.60.94 crore by sourcing requisite funds from the Development Policy Loan, with a three-year phasing. 

Infrastructure Development to augment cool season vegetable and temperate fruit production in Kanthalloor and Vattavada Grama Panchayat of Idukki district

As per the recommendations of Swaminathan Commission for Mitigation of agrarian distress in Idukki district, a project for Infrastructure Development for augmenting cool season vegetable and fruit production in the Vattavada & Kanthaloor panchayaths of Idukki district has been approved and under implementation by the Department availing assistance from State Horticulture Mission under RKVY. The Projects viz. Project for Infrastructure Development in Kanthalloor Grama Panchayat for augmenting cool season vegetable production sanctioned for an amount of Rs 89.66 lakhs and Project for Infrastructure Development in Vattavada Grama Panchayat for augmenting temperate fruits and cool season vegetable production sanctioned for an amount of Rs 96.79 lakhs is being implemented in the State from 2013-14.

Projects under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yogana (RKVY) and Pradhan Manthri Krishi SinchayeeYogana (PMKSY)

The Department is implementing projects under RKVY aimed at Drainage and Flood protection scheme in Kapalli Nedumkandi padasekharam of Kozhikode district. Projects are also being implemented under the PDMC component of PMKSY in various districts.

Other initiatives

Providing technical support for implementation of watershed development programmes

The department is providing technical support service for the implementation of Integrated Watershed Development Programme (IWMP) projects in the State through preparation of Detailed Project Reports and evaluation. The department is also providing watershed maps and soil maps to various user agencies.

COMPLETED PROGRAMMES/SCHEMES

National Watershed Development Project For Rainfed Areas (NWDPRA)

            The Centrally Sponsored Scheme of NWDPRA for the development of rainfed areas is being implemented in the State since VIII Plan period. During XI Plan period the project activities were taken up in 31 sub watersheds comprised in 134 micro watersheds. Holistic development of the watershed area with proper natural resource management activities through soil conservation measures, revival of the agrarian sector with improved production and productivity were the major objectives of the programme. Apart from Natural Resource Management, income generating activities under Farm Production System and Livelihood Support Initiatives for the landless were also included under the projects. 

River Valley Project Kabini 

The Centrally Sponsored Scheme of River Valley Project Kabini was under implementation  in the catchment of Kabini River of  Wayanad district since 1998-99. The principle objective of the scheme is to prevent siltation in the reservoirs of hydel dams constructed across Kabini River and to prevent soil erosion from the catchment of Kabini river in Kerala Portion. The assistance for the project under Macro management in Agriculture (MMA) Scheme has been stopped by the Central Government. Hence steps have been taken for finding alternate source of funds through RKVY, NMSA etc for saturating the already selected & executed priority watersheds of the district.

Special Rehabilitation Package for Farmers of Distress Districts - Check Dam Project in Wayanad

Government have accorded administrative approval for 13 check dam projects under Special Rehabilitation package for Farmers of Distress Districts in Wayanad district at an estimate  cost of  Rs 11 crores. The major objective of the scheme was to reinforce the drainage lines of selected watersheds for enhancing the ground water recharge and provide water for improving agricultural production. The major items of works implemented are check dams of various sizes, Loose Boulder Check Dams, Concrete Check Dams etc.

Soil Conservation activities under Kuttanad Package

            In order to mitigate agrarian distress in the fragile ecosystems of Kuttanad, Upper Kuttanad and Onattukara region and to sustain and restore ecological stability, this programme was introduced as a part of the Kuttanad Package funded by 13th Finance Commission of GOI. The Project gives emphasis for various water conservation activities aimed at ensuring potable water for domestic use and irrigation purposes. The various activities devised under the programme include renovation of wells, ponds, well curbing, planting of vettiver, supply of medicinal and horticultural plants etc. Works under first phase sanctioned for an amount of Rs 15.25 crores and second phase sanctioned for an amount of Rs.25.20 crores in the three districts of Alappuzha, Kottayam and Pathanamthitta have been completed.

Ecorestoration Project in the Habitat of Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group

            The project implemented by the Department of Soil Survey & Soil Conservation in collaboration with the State Tribal Department at an outlay of Rs 8.32 crores, aims at eco restoration of the vulnerable habitats of the 78 tribal colonies in the districts of Malappuram, Palakkad, Thrissur, Wayanad and Kasargode.  The funding assistance of the project is through the 13th Finance Commission. The main constraints of the area to be addressed includes rapid degradation of soil and water resources, unavailability of safe drinking water, threat from wild animals and fragile ecosystem. The treatments undertaken for natural resource management including Bunding, terracing, moisture conservation pits, agrostological measures, Loose Boulder Check Dams, Retaining walls, construction of pond, water harvesting structures, spring development, side protection walls, afforestation, boundary protection etc. These works helped to build up the infrastructure base of the project area and in the socio economic development of the backward tribal community.