Western Ghat Developement Programme ( WGDP )
The Western Ghat region of Kerala (Sahyadri) stretches over 450 km (28.12%) out of the total length of 1600 km and is spread over 80 Block Panchayats (out of 152 Blocks in the State) and 537 Grama Panchayats (out of the total of 999 Panchayats in the State). Thirty One out of the 63 Taluks in the State with a total geographical area of 28008 sq.km (72% of the total State area of 38863 sq.km.) and around 50% of the State’s population is in this region. The population of this region increased from 68.8 lakhs in 1971 to 140.36 lakhs in 2001.
The main aim of the watershed approach is to ensure a holistic view of water and land resources and to prevent further degradation of these ecologically fragile areas. However, the development of the people of these hilly areas in consonance with the fragility of their habitat, demands an approach which is more than just watershed development. Attention is given to economic activities which are sustainable, use of technologies which will reduce the burden of the people both in economic and household situations and ensure means of livelihood for the inhabitants with minimal disturbance to the ecology. Thus, the approach is a watershed plus approach – an approach which gives as much emphasis to ecology as to economic development
Features of WGDP in Kerala
- Western Ghats Development Programme is implemented in participatory mode through Panchayat Raj Institutions. It is fully integrated with the Decentralized Planning Process.
- It is implemented on the basis of a clear set of “Operational Guidelines” issued by the Government of Kerala.
- Project proposals for the micro watersheds are selected by the District Level Coordination Committee (DLCC) from the priority list of watersheds in the District.
- Women empowerment is achieved through creating greater opportunities for jobs and thereby increasing their income. Ensuring social justice by incorporating suitable livelihood schemes for the poor and the marginalized.
- Identifying location specific development activities for watershed management.