The State government has decided to lay 22,400 free borewells for farmers by the end of March through the YSR Jala Kala scheme. Rural Development Commissioner Girija Shankar and Watershed Director PVRM Reddy on Wednesday held a meeting with DWMA PDs of 13 districts and set district-wise targets. Authorities have been directed to finalize plans to dig free bores at the rate of 3,200 in January, 9,600 in February, and 9,600 in March across the state as per the plan.
In order to make the YSR Jala Kala scheme more beneficial where farmers who have no open water source for irrigation are provided free borewells, the Andhra Pradesh government has started the process of changing rules so that more farmers especially in the dry areas can benefit from it.
The regulations for the scheme were drawn following NABARD guidelines. However, due to local conditions in some parts of the state these regulations have become unfavorable.
The issue was brought to the notice of the government by farmers, representatives of farmer associations and field level officials.
After analyzing the groundwater department statistics, the government decided that the regulations needed to be amended and make it more beneficial.
According to the WALTA act, distance between one bore and another should be at least 200 meters and there is no permission to dig a bore within these limits.
There is a provision that boreholes should not be drilled beyond a depth of 120 meters in rocky land. There is no limit on bore depth in sandy soils.
However in districts in the arid Rayalaseema region, Prakasam, Palnadu areas of Guntur district have rocky land.
Even when borewells up to 1,200 feet deep are dug there is no chance of getting water. The 120-meter rule renders it useless.
Taking these issues into consideration, the state government has decided to amend the scheme rules and set up a high-level committee for appropriate recommendations.
The committee comprised senior officials from the Central Groundwater Board, Rural Water Supply, where an official from the State Ground Water Department would act as the Convener for this committee.
The government will revise the regulations taking into account the recommendations of this committee as well as the report given by the State Ground Water department.
Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy also directed officials to amend the rules to benefit every farmer in the state. " In Rayalaseema, farmers drilled 1,200–1,400 feet deep boreholes but could not get water. Consider these issues and amend rules which would be suitable for local conditions, he told officials at a recent meeting.
Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy launched YSR Jala Kala in September last year. Under the scheme, borewells will be dug free of cost to around three lakh farmers which is estimated to cost Rs 2,340 crore in four years. The government plans to drill about two lakh borewells to enable groundwater irrigation to the needu farmers and those in arid areas based on the ground water table.