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To involve village communities in the implementation of watershed projects under all the area development programmes namely, Integrated Wastelands Development Programme (IWDP), Drought Prone Areas Programme (DPAP) and Desert Development Programme (DDP), the Guidelines for Watershed Development were adopted w.e.f.1.4.1995, and subsequently revised in August 2001.  To further simplify procedures and involve the Panchayat Raj Institutions (PRIs) more meaningfully in planning, implementation and management of economic development activities in rural areas, these new Guidelines called Guidelines for Hariyali are being issued.


New projects under the area development programmes shall be implemented in accordance with the Guidelines for Hariyali with effect from 1.4.2003.  Projects under DPAP and DDP will be taken up in the blocks identified under the respective programme and projects under IWDP shall generally be taken up in the remaining blocks.   Projects sanctioned prior to this date shall continue to be implemented as per the Guidelines of 2001.


The objectives of projects under HARIYALI will be: -

  • Harvesting every drop of rainwater for purposes of irrigation, plantations including horticulture and floriculture, pasture development, fisheries etc. to create sustainable sources of income for the village community as well as for drinking water supplies.

  • Ensuring overall development of rural areas through the Gram Panchayats and creating regular sources of income for the Panchayats from rainwater harvesting and management.

  • Employment generation, poverty alleviation, community empowerment and development of human and other economic resources of the rural areas.

  • Mitigating the adverse effects of extreme climatic conditions such as drought and desertification on crops, human and livestock population for the overall improvement of rural areas.

  • Restoring ecological balance by harnessing, conserving and developing natural resources i.e. land, water, vegetative cover especially plantations.

  • Encouraging village community towards sustained community action for the operation and maintenance of assets created and further development of the potential of the natural resources in the watershed.

  • Promoting use of simple, easy and affordable technological solutions and institutional arrangements that make use of, and build upon, local technical knowledge and available materials.

Sanction of Projects

The projects will be sanctioned by the Department of Land Resources in the Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India as per procedure in vogue. The Department may amend or relax this procedure from time to time.  For interpretation of any of the provisions of these Guidelines, the Department of Land Resources will be the final authority.  The Department may sanction special projects for treatment of wastelands in Special Problem Areas such as high altitude regions, land slide areas, slopes having more than 30 degree gradient or for any other specified technical reason. These projects need not necessarily be implemented through participatory mode and may be implemented on intensive treatment specific, departmental approach.

Criteria for Selection of Watersheds

The following criteria may broadly be used in selection of the watersheds:

  • Watersheds where People’s participation is assured through contribution of labour, cash, material etc. for its development as well as for the operation and maintenance of the assets created.

  • Watershed areas having acute shortage of drinking water.

  • Watersheds having large population of scheduled castes/scheduled tribes dependent on it.

  • Watershed having a preponderance of non-forest wastelands/degraded lands.

  • Watersheds having preponderance of common lands.

  • Watersheds where actual wages are significantly lower than the minimum wages.

  • Watershed which is contiguous to another watershed that has already been developed/ treated.

  • Watershed area may be of an average size of 500 hectares, preferably covering an entire village.  However, if on actual survey, a watershed is found to have less or more area, the total area may be taken up for development as a project.

In case a watershed covers two or more villages, it should be divided into village-wise sub-watersheds confined to the designated villages.  Care should be taken to treat all the sub-watersheds simultaneously.

Development of Forest Lands in Watershed Areas

Some watersheds may encompass, in addition to arable land under private ownership, forest lands under the ownership of State Forest Department.  Since nature does not recognize artificial boundaries of forest and non-forest lands in any watershed, the entire watershed is to be treated in an integrated manner.  Though the criterion for selection of watersheds primarily remains   predominance of non-forest lands, forest lands forming part of such watersheds may also be treated simultaneously as detailed below:

  • The Divisional Forest Officer concerned should give technical sanction for the treatment plans.

  • The treatment plans should as far as possible be implemented by Village Forest Committees in close coordination with the Village Panchayat.

  • The Micro-watershed Development Plan for the forest areas should be in conformity with the Forest Conservation Act and the approved working plan of the area.

  • Where a large portion of the watershed is covered by forestlands, Forest Department at the district level should be encouraged to take up the work of development as Project Implementation Agency.

  • A forest official should invariably be included as a member of the Watershed Development Team wherever forestland falls within the watershed.

Project Commencement

The date of sanction of the project shall be date of project commencement for all purposes. The project shall be implemented over a period of five years from the date of its sanction.

The projects under these Guidelines will be implemented, mainly, through the Zilla Parishads (ZPs)/District Rural Development Agencies (DRDAs). However, wherever it is expedient in the interest of the Programmes, the projects can be implemented through any Department of the State Government or an autonomous agency of the Central Government/State Government with the approval of the Department of Land Resources, Government of India.

Project Implementation Agencies

At the district level, ZP/DRDA shall be the nodal authority for implementation of all the area development programmes under the supervision and guidance of the State Government and the Government of India. It shall approve the selection of watersheds, the appointment of Project Implementation Agencies, approve the action plan/treatment plan of the projects etc. The CEO (ZP)/PD(DRDA) shall maintain the accounts of watershed projects and shall sign all statutory papers such as Utilization Certificates (UCs), Audited Statements of Accounts, Progress Reports, Bonds etc.

The ZP/DRDA will be entitled to recover funds from any institution/ organization/ individual and take appropriate action under law if the project is not properly implemented or funds are misutilised or not spent as per these Guidelines.

At the field level, the Gram Panchayats shall implement the projects under the overall supervision and guidance of Project Implementation Agencies (PIAs). An intermediate Panchayat may be the PIA for all the projects sanctioned to a particular Block/Taluka. In case, these Panchayats are not adequately empowered, then the ZP can either act as PIA itself or may appoint a suitable Line Department like Agriculture, Forestry/Social Forestry, Soil Conservation etc. or an Agency of the State Government/ University/ Institute as PIA. Failing these options, the ZP/DRDA may consider appointing a reputed Non-Government Organization (NGO) in the district with adequate experience and expertise in the implementation of watershed projects or related area development works as the PIA after thoroughly checking its credentials. Nonetheless, the State Governments should endeavor to empower the PRIs and build their capacities so that they may ultimately be in a position to take up the responsibility of independently implementing the watershed development projects as PIAs. An NGO-PIA shall normally be assigned 10-12 watershed projects covering an area ranging from 5,000-6,000 hectares. However, in exceptional and deserving cases, an NGO-PIA may be assigned a maximum of 12,000 hectares at a time including ongoing projects in all the Programmes of similar nature in a district and a maximum of 25,000 hectares in the State.

An NGO is eligible for selection as PIA only if it has been active in the field of watershed development or any similar area developmental activities in rural areas for some years. The quantum of funds handled by an agency in the last 3 years may be taken into account for their selection as PIA by the ZP/DRDA.  The NGOs blacklisted by CAPART or other Departments of State Government and Government of India should not be appointed as PIA.

The Project Implementation Agency (PIA) will   provide necessary technical guidance to the Gram Panchayat for preparation of development plans for the watershed through Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) exercise, undertake community organization and training for the village communities, supervise watershed development activities, inspect and authenticate project accounts, encourage adoption of low cost technologies and build upon indigenous technical knowledge, monitor and review the overall project implementation and set up institutional arrangements for post-project operation and maintenance and further development of the assets created during the project period.

The ZP/DRDA shall, normally, be the authority competent to decide on the suitability or otherwise of the Project Implementation Agency (PIA) for taking up projects under the watershed development programmes. However, the State Government may consider changing the PIA in any of the projects on specific grounds with prior concurrence of the Department of Land Resources, Govt. of India.

Each PIA shall carry out its duties through a multi-disciplinary team designated as the Watershed Development Team (WDT).  Each WDT should have at least four members one each from the disciplines of forestry/plant sciences, animal sciences, civil/agricultural engineering and social sciences. At least one member of the WDT should be a woman.  Preferable qualification for a WDT member should be a professional degree. However, the qualification can be relaxed by the ZP/DRDA in deserving cases keeping in view the practical field experience of the candidate in the relevant discipline.   One of the WDT members shall be designated as the Project Leader.  The PIA will be at liberty to either earmark its own staff exclusively for this work, or engage fresh candidates including retired personnel, or take people on deputation from government or other organizations. The WDT shall be located at the PIA/Block   headquarters/any other town nearest to the cluster of selected villages. Honorarium to the WDT members shall be paid out of the administrative costs as indicated in Annexure-I.

In order to avoid the tendency for over-emphasis on certain activities related to the speciality of the PIA selected, particularly in the case of Line Departments like Agriculture, Soil Conservation, Forestry etc., the ZP/DRDA should ensure that subject matter specialists from various Line Departments at the district and block levels are involved in the preparation of the plans.

Gram Panchayats will execute the works under the guidance and control of the Gram Sabha. In States where there are Ward Sabhas (Palli Sabhas etc.) and the area to be treated is within that Ward, the Ward Sabha may perform the duties of the Gram Sabha.

In 6th Schedule areas, where traditional Village Councils are functioning instead of Gram Panchayats, these Councils may be assigned the responsibilities of the Gram Panchayats/Gram Sabhas. In cases, where there is neither a Gram Panchayat nor the traditional Village Council, the existing provisions of Guidelines (2001) would apply.

The Gram Panchayat shall carry out the day-to-day activities of the project and will be responsible for coordination and liaison with the Watershed Development Team and the ZP/DRDA to ensure smooth implementation of the project. It shall be responsible for undertaking watershed development works and to make payments for the same.

The Gram Panchayat shall maintain a separate account for the watershed project and all receipts from ZP/DRDA will be credited to this account. This account shall be operated jointly by the Gram Panchayat Secretary and Gram Panchayat Chairman. The Gram Panchayat Secretary will be responsible for convening meetings of the Gram Panchayat and Gram Sabha and for carrying out all their decisions.He will maintain all the records and accounts of project activities. If required, the Gram Panchayat may appoint two or three volunteers to provide assistance to the Gram Panchayat Secretary in the implementation of activities as per the action plan/treatment plan of the watershed project. The volunteers will be paid honorarium as per Annexure-I

Gram Sabha Meetings

The Gram Sabha will meet, at least twice a year to approve/improve the watershed development plan, monitor and review its progress, approve the statement of accounts, form User Groups/Self-Help Groups, resolve differences/disputes between different User Groups, Self-Help Groups or amongst members of these groups, approve arrangements for the collection of public/voluntary donations and contributions from the community and individual members, lay down procedures for the operation and maintenance of assets created and approve the activities that can be taken up with money available in the Watershed Development Fund.

Self-Help Groups

The Gram Panchayat shall constitute Self Help Groups (SHGs) in the watershed area with the help of WDT from amongst landless/assetless poor, agricultural labourers, women, shepherds, scheduled caste/scheduled tribe persons and the like.  These Groups shall be homogenous groups having common identity and interest who are dependent on the watershed area for their livelihood. Separate Self-Help Groups should be organised for women, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes etc.

User Groups

The Gram Panchayat shall also constitute User Groups (UGs) in the watershed area with the help of WDT.   These Groups shall be homogenous groups of persons most affected by each work/activity and shall include those having land holdings within the watershed areas. Each UG shall consist of landholders who are likely to derive direct benefits from a particular watershed work or activity. The UGs shall be responsible for the operation and maintenance of all the assets created under the project through which they derive direct or indirect individual benefits.

Van Rakshaks

To take care of plantations on public/ community/ Panchayat lands, the Gram Panchayats may engage local unemployed youth from BPL families as “Van Rakshaks” on honorarium, which will be paid out of the administrative costs prescribed in Annexure-I. The Van Rakshaks and volunteers shall not be treated as employees of the Gram Panchayat/ PIA/ ZP/ State Government/ Government of India. The honorarium of Van Rakshaks may be increased or decreased by the Gram Panchayat keeping in view the survival rate of plantations. The Gram Panchayat shall also ensure usufructs for these Van Rakshaks

Community Mobilization and Training

Community Mobilization and Training are pre-requisites for initiating development work in watershed projects.  Prior sensitization and orientation training on Watershed Project Management should be imparted to all concerned functionaries and elected representatives at the district, block and village levels before they assume their responsibilities. In case ZP/ DRDA/ Line department is the PIA, it may involve NGOs for community mobilization and training. For this, approval of ZP/DRDA should be taken.

Activities for Watershed Development

A meeting of the Gram Sabha/ Ward Sabha shall be convened for preparation of the Action Plan/ Watershed Treatment Plan, on the basis of the information generated from the benchmark survey of the watershed areas and detailed PRA exercises. After general discussion, the Gram Panchayat will prepare a detailed Action Plan/ Treatment Plan for integrated development of the watershed area under the guidance of the WDT and submit the same to the PIA.  The WDT should utilize various thematic maps relating to land and water resources development in the preparation and finalization of the Action Plan/ Watershed Treatment Plan.  This Action Plan shall necessarily mention the clear demarcation of the watershed with specific details of survey numbers, ownership details and a map depicting the location of proposed work/activities. The PIA, after careful scrutiny, shall submit the Action Plan for Watershed Development for approval of the ZP/DRDA.  The approved plan shall be the basis for release of funds, monitoring, review, evaluation etc. by the ZP/DRDA, State Government and Central Government. The Action Plan/Watershed Treatment Plan should be prepared for all the arable and non-arable land including degraded forestlands, government and community lands and private lands. The items, inter-alia, that can be included in the Action Plan/Watershed Treatment Plan are:

  • Development of small water harvesting structures such as low-cost farm ponds, nalla bunds, check-dams, percolation tanks and other ground water recharge measures.

  • Renovation and augmentation of water sources, desiltation of village tanks for drinking water/irrigation/fisheries development.

  • Fisheries development in village ponds/tanks, farm ponds etc.

  • Afforestation including block plantations, agro-forestry and horticultural development, shelterbelt plantations, sand dune stabilization, etc.

  • Pasture development either by itself or in conjunction with plantations.

  • Land Development including in-situ soil and moisture conservation measures like contour and graded bunds fortified by plantation, bench terracing in hilly terrain, nursery raising for fodder, timber, fuel wood, horticulture and non-timber forest product species.

  • Drainage line treatment with a combination of vegetative and engineering structures.

  • Repair, restoration and up-gradation of existing common property assets and structures in the watershed to obtain optimum & sustained benefits from previous public investments.

  • Crop demonstrations for popularizing new crops/varieties or innovative management practices.

  • Promotion and propagation of non-conventional energy saving devices, energy conservation measures, bio fuel plantations etc.

The WDT, while drawing up the Action Plan/ Watershed Treatment Plan should ensure that project works involve only low-cost, locally available technologies and materials, are simple, easy to operate and maintain. Emphasis should be on vegetative measures. Costly masonry/ cement works, use of machinery should be discouraged.

While preparing the watershed treatment plan, the Gram Panchayats should give emphasis to rain water-harvesting activities and undertake massive plantation works on community as well as private lands. Where private lands are involved, these should belong, predominantly, to SC/ST and  small/marginal farmers. Focus should be on employment and income generation activities that benefit the rural poor in the watershed project area. Impounded rainwater could also be used for income generating activities like fisheries.

While preparing the detailed action plan, technical requirements and feasibility of appropriate biophysical measures are to be carefully worked out by the WDT for long-term sustainable interventions for the entire area of the watershed.  The Action Plan should specify, among others, the following:

  • Physical targets to be achieved (year wise) under the project and the road map for achieving these targets;

  • Definite time frame for each major activity;

  • Technological interventions for the proposed activities;

  • Specific success criteria for each activity; and a

  • Clear Exit Protocol.

After the detailed action plan is approved by the ZP/DRDA, it would be the responsibility of the PIA to get the same implemented through the Gram Panchayat with active support and supervision of the WDT members.

Exit Protocol

While preparing the detailed Action Plan/Treatment Plan, the Gram Sabha/Gram Panchayat, under the technical guidance of WDT, shall evolve proper Exit Protocol for the watershed development project. The Exit Protocol shall specify a mechanism for maintenance of assets created, augmentation including levy and collection of user charges, utilization of the Watershed Development Fund etc. Mechanism for equitable distribution and sustainability of benefits accrued under the watershed development project should also be clearly spelt out in the Exit Protocol. While approving the Action Plan for the watershed, the ZP/DRDA shall ensure that the detailed mechanism for such Exit Protocol forms part of the Action Plan/Treatment Plan.


Transparency under the Programme would be promoted by various agencies as follows:

  • Preparation of the Action Plan for the watershed by the Gram Panchayat in consultation with Self-Help Groups/User Groups with the assistance of WDT members.

  • Approval of the Action Plan at the open meetings of the Gram Sabha.

  • Display of approved Action Plan on a Notice Board at the Gram Panchayat Office, Village Community Hall and such other community buildings.

  • Review of physical and financial progress of work during implementation phase through periodical meetings of the Gram Sabha.

  • Payment to labourers directly and through cheques wherever possible.

Funding Pattern

The present cost norm is Rs 6000 per hectare. This amount shall be divided amongst the following project components subject to the percentage ceiling mentioned against each: -


Watershed Treatment/ Development Works/ Activities 



Community Mobilization and Training



Administrative Overheads





Savings, if any, in the administrative costs can be utilized for undertaking activities under the other two heads viz. training and watershed works, but not vice–versa. Purchase of vehicles, office equipment, furniture etc., construction of buildings, and payment of salaries of government staff will not be permissible under administrative costs.

General cost norm for watershed development projects will be as per Annexure-I. Cost estimates for each work item and project activity shall be worked out as per Standard Schedule of Rates (SSR) approved by the State Governments in representative areas.

Procedure for release of instalments

Central Share of funds shall be released to the ZPs/ DRDAs in five installments over a period of 5 years. The State shall also release their corresponding share to the ZPs/ DRDAs accordingly. Further breakup of these installments is given in Annexure–II.

While the first installment of Central funds shall be released along with the Project Sanction unconditionally, further installments shall be released when the unutilized balance is not more than 50% of the previous installment released. The relevant release proposal should be submitted by the ZP/DRDA to the Department of Land Resources, through the State Government, along with Quarterly Progress Reports and Audited Statement of Accounts of the previous year.  In addition, proposal for release of second installment shall be supported by details concerning village-wise area taken up for treatment, Project Profile, Action Plan approved by ZP/DRDA and other documents called for as and when necessary. The ZP/DRDA shall release funds to the PIAs and the Gram Panchayats within 15 days of receipt of funds from the Central and State governments.

After receipt of 45% of project funds in two installments, the State Government shall commission a Mid-Term Evaluation of the watershed development project through an independent evaluator from a Panel of Evaluators maintained by the State Government with due approval of the Department of Land Resources. Release of the third installment of Central funds shall be made only after submission of a satisfactory Mid-Term Evaluation Report, besides all other requirements specified above.  The State Govt shall also commission a final evaluation of the project on its completion and submit the same to DoLR with the completion report.

Watershed Development Fund

One of the mandatory conditions for selection of villages in Watershed Development Programmes is people’s contribution towards Watershed Development Fund (WDF). The contributions to WDF shall be a minimum 10% of the cost of works executed on individual lands. However, in case of SC/ST and persons identified below the poverty line, the minimum contribution shall be 5% of the cost of works executed on their lands. Contribution to the Fund in respect of community property may come from all the beneficiaries, which shall be a minimum of 5% of the development cost incurred. It should be ensured that the contribution comes from the beneficiary farmers and is not deducted from the wages paid to the labourers who are engaged to treat the private lands. These contributions would be acceptable either in cash/ voluntary labour or material. A sum equivalent to the monetary value of the voluntary labour and materials would be taken from the watershed project account and deposited in this Fund. The Gram Panchayat shall maintain the Watershed Development Fund separately. The Chairman and Secretary, Gram Panchayat will operate the WDF account jointly. Individuals as well as charitable institutions should be encouraged to contribute generously to this Fund. The proceeds of this Fund shall be utilized in maintenance of assets created on community land or for common use after completion of project period. Works taken up for individual benefit shall not be eligible for repair/maintenance out of this Fund.

User Charges

The Gram Panchayat shall impose user charges on the User Groups for use of common utilities like water for irrigation from village tanks/ponds, grazing from community pastures etc. While one-half of the user charges so collected may be credited to the WDF for maintenance of assets of the projects, the remaining one-half may be utilized by the Panchayat for any other purpose as it may deem fit.

Revolving Fund for SHGs

The Gram Panchayat will set up a revolving fund not exceeding Rs. one lakh to be given as seed money for vocational development by the Self-Help Groups (SHGs) at a rate not exceeding Rs.10,000/- per SHG for undertaking income generating activities. This seed money must be recovered from the SHG members in a maximum of 6 installments on monthly basis.  This could be reinvested in the same or other SHGs.

Convergence of Programmes

As the Watershed Development Programmes aim at holistic development of watershed areas, the convergence of all other non-land based programmes of Government of India, particularly those of the Ministry of Rural Development would enhance the ultimate output and lead to sustainable economic development of the village community.   The ZP/DRDA, therefore, shall take all possible measures to ensure convergence of other programmes of the Ministry of Rural Development such as the Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana (SGRY), the Swarnjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana (SGSY), the Indira Awas Yojana (IAY), the Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) and the Rural Drinking Water Supply Programme in the villages chosen for the implementation of the watershed development projects. It would also be worthwhile to converge programmes of similar nature of the other Ministries e.g. Health & Family Welfare, Education, Social Justice and Empowerment and Agriculture, as also of the State Governments, in these villages.

Credit Facility

The general cost norms for watershed development projects shall remain as per Annexure–I.  However, the ZP/DRDA shall explore and encourage availing of credit facilities provided by banks or other Financial Institutions by the SHGs, UGs, Panchayats and individuals for further developmental activities in watershed areas.

Monitoring & Review

The Gram Panchayat shall submit a quarterly progress report to the PIA after it is scrutinized and approved by the WDT.  The PIA shall submit quarterly progress reports to the ZP/DRDA for further submission to the DoLR through the State Govt.  At district level, ZP/DRDA shall monitor the implementation of the projects.  At the State level, Secretary of the Department concerned shall be responsible for regular monitoring of these projects as well as mid-term and final evaluation of projects. The Department of Land Resources may also appoint independent institutions/ individuals to carry out concurrent as well as post-project evaluations/ impact studies of the watershed development projects. District and State level Vigilance and Monitoring committees may also review the progress of the watershed projects.


Queries may be addressed to the following:-
At the District level:   Chief Executive Officer, Zila Parishad/Project Director, District Rural Development Agency.

At the State level:   Secretary /Commissioner/Director, Rural Development.

At the National level:   Department of Land Resources, Ministry of Rural Development, NBO Building, ‘G’ Wing, Nirman Bhavan, New Delhi - 110011.





At ZP/DRDA Level 


WDT Members Training (For 10 WDP’s)

Rs. 30,000

(i)   Proportionate Expenditure for one    WDP

Rs.   3,000

(ii)   Miscellaneous Expenditure/WDP

Rs.   3,000

(A) Total for one Watershed Project 

Rs.   6,000


At PIA/WDT Level (For 10 WDP’s) 
(i)   WDT members honorarium

Rs.   7,50,000

(ii)  TA/DA

Rs.   4,50,000

(iii) Office Staff / Contingencies

Rs.   2,70,000

Total for 10 WDP’s

Rs. 14,70,000

(B)  Expenditure for One WDP 



At Village Level 


(i) Volunteers’/ Van Rakshaks’ Honorarium

  Rs.  1,20,000

(ii) TA/DA

  Rs.     15,000

(iii) Office Contingencies

  Rs.     12,000

(C)  Total for each Watershed

  Rs.  1,47,000




Rs.  3,00,000











Component Breakup

% Breakup






Adm. Cost


Community development & training




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Community development & training




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Community development & training




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Addendum-I (PDF file)