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Harnessing Excess Rainfall: The Power of Rainwater Harvesting in Rajasthan

Rainwater Harvesting Explained

Context: Rainwater harvesting initiatives in Rajasthan, particularly in the western region, are witnessing success due to increased rainfall levels. The ministry of Jal Shakti also started “Jal Shakti Abhiyan: Catch the Rain” (JSA: CTR) in 2021. The theme is “Catch the Rain Where it Falls When it Falls” to cover all the blocks of all districts (rural and urban both) across the country.

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Key Points:

Surplus Rainfall in Rajasthan:

Western Rajasthan, known for its arid climate, received over 70% of its annual rainfall by August, ranking second highest in the country for excess rainfall.

Despite being among the driest regions, recent years have shown a rise in wet days, benefiting traditional water harvesting structures.

Utilizing Harvested Rainwater:

Agriculture is flourishing, with vast previously fallow lands now cultivated. Many villages in the desert areas are gearing up for a second winter crop, facilitated by the excess rainwater.

The harvested rainwater is projected to irrigate 60% of the cultivable land in western Rajasthan, particularly showing significant potential in areas like Pali.

Rainwater Harvesting Explained:

Rainwater harvesting involves collecting and storing rainwater from various surfaces like rooftops, parks, and roads. The system comprises catchments, conveyance systems, filters, and storage or recharge structures.

These systems aim to conserve rainwater, meeting water demands, reviving old water harvesting structures, enhancing groundwater quality and quantity, and mitigating floods.

Factors Behind Surplus Rainfall:

Increased rainfall by 10-50% in the semi-arid regions of India and Pakistan since 1901 is attributed to a westward expansion of the Indian Ocean warm pool.

The shift in the Indian monsoon’s patterns and the historical aridness in the west and northwest of India are undergoing potential transformation due to this reversal.

Impact and Opportunities:

The surplus rainfall offers a tremendous opportunity for rainwater harvesting, fostering groundwater recharge, domestic water usage, and irrigation possibilities, thereby transforming socio-economic conditions.

Efficient rainwater harvesting could significantly enhance food productivity, leading to transformative changes in the region’s socio-economic landscape.

Government initiatives:

Atal Bhuj Yojana: It is a Central Sector Scheme with an outlay of Rs. 6,000 crores in identified water-stressed areas of 8,220 Gram Panchayats (GPs) under 229 blocks in 80 districts of 7 States viz. Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh to arrest the decline in groundwater level through community-led sustainable groundwater management.

The Watershed Development Component of Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana (WDC-PMKSY) includes rainwater harvesting among its activities within the Natural Resource Management (NRM) component.

Surface Minor Irrigation (SMI) and the Repair, Renovation & Restoration (RRR) of Water Bodies have multiple objectives: expanding the cultivable area under assured irrigation, improving and restoring water bodies, and enhancing groundwater recharge, ultimately reviving lost irrigation potential.

The Central Ground Water Board, in consultation with States/UTs, has prepared the Master Plan for Artificial Recharge to Groundwater-2020. This macro-level plan outlines various structures tailored for different terrain conditions across the country.

Launched in 2015, the Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) focuses on developing basic urban infrastructure, particularly ensuring water supply and tap connections to every household in 500 cities.

Within the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), water conservation and water harvesting structures are included as part of the natural resource management (NRM) component.

On National Panchayati Raj Day, April 24, 2022, authorities inaugurated the Mission Amrit Sarovar as a part of the Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav celebrations. This mission aims to conserve water for future generations and is dedicating to develop and revitalizing 75 water bodies in each district across the country.


The success of rainwater harvesting initiatives in Rajasthan’s arid western region demonstrates the potential of harnessing surplus rainfall, offering new avenues for agricultural growth, groundwater replenishment, and socio-economic development.

Read Also: Conservation of Water Resources

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