Ministers fight over funding National Rainfed Area Authority

Ministers fight over funding National Rainfed Area Authority who should fund the National Rainfed Area Authority (nraa)? The issue remained unresolved even after the first meeting of the authority ended in Delhi in January this year.

Set up in November 2006, the National Rainfed Area Authority is mandated to raise the productivity of rainfed areas. More than 60 per cent of the country's cultivable lands are rain-fed and account for around 40 per cent of total food production. The authority has to find ways to raise productivity in these areas through water harvesting and conservation. The recent meeting was to discuss several important issues such as artificial recharge of groundwater and renovation of existing water bodies, and taking up watershed management in forest areas. However, they could not be taken up and the meeting ended in serious disagreement over funding.

The issue sparked a verbal duel between Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar and Union rural development minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh, who are the chairperson and co-chairperson of the authority.

Pawar, whose ministry has jurisdiction over nraa, suggested that the authority should be funded under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (nrega), since water conservation is a focus area for both the programmes. Of the nine