Chhattisgarh shows the way in water conservation for its forests

The Samikhsya Bureau

Raipur: Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel’s thrust on water and forest conservation for a sustainable livelihood and protection of ecosystem has reaped rich dividends.

The state that has above 44 per cent forest cover, has succeeded in finding a way out to raise groundwater levels in its 31 forest divisions.

The special project implemented by the state Department of Forest to rejuvenate water channels and river drains has minimised wastage of rain water, contained soil erosion and recharged the groundwater.

Under the Narwa enrichment programme, 1089 rivulets and small watercourses have been revived in forest areas that include tiger reserves, national parks and elephant corridors.

“Owing to degradation of forests and change in land-use pattern, various development activities have deteriorated the network of streams, putting an end to an unspecified number of watercourses in various forest divisions.

Water availability has a direct impact on the health of forests and their inhabitants. Forested catchments are known to provide substantial propositions of water for domestic, agricultural, industrial and ecological needs”, officials of the Forest Department explained.

The state has set an ambitious target to construct about 25 lakh structures to facilitate groundwater augmentation in the forest territory investing a budget of `Rs.370-crore from its Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority, they added.

With above 80 per cent of its households dependant on agriculture, forest- catchments assume utmost significance as vast areas under cultivation have low water retention capacity.

The Chief Minister had directed the Department to devise ways for a sustainable and speedy water conservation programme for the State’s forest cover, the officials shared.

Since December last, over 800 streams have been perpetually maintained covering 4.05 lakh hectares of forest area while another 1092 water channels are being revived, it was learnt.