Watershed development approach has evolved with passage of time gradually from initial objectives of soil & water conservation and reducing siltation of river valley projectsto the current integrated approach of managing the biological, physical, and social elements in a landscape within a watershed's boundaries. By virtue of Participatory Watershed Development Program (PWDP) adopted in 1994 and various amendments effected in the Guidelines from time to time, securing livelihoods has also emerged as an important dimension, apart from developing rainfed and degraded lands in the country. As a consequence, watershed development approach has been accepted as a model for major public investments targeting sustainable production systems for natural resources management and livelihood options.

Investments made in watershed development programs, like Integrated Watershed Management Program (IWMP), externally funded programs, and other natural resources management programs such as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS), Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) etc. have demonstrated reasonable success. This strongly suggests the feasibility for expanded coverage of land resources development under such programs. This is critical for sustaining high growth of agriculture and allied sectors which provide support for country‟s majority of people for their livelihoods. With the growing population of the country and for meeting targets of nutritional security, agriculture production systems in particular, and ecology at large, need a focused approach.

The rainfed regions of the country are in need of an accelerated pace of growth, comprehensive time tested interventions, benefitting people and sustaining ecology. This paradigm goes well with the recommendation of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Doubling Farmers Income (DFI) that invites attention to the specific needs of three principal stake holders: (a)the consumers need nutrition security (b)the farmers need income security and (c) the production environment needs ecological security.

The past experiences of watershed approach for development of land prove that watershed is an appropriate platform for converging financial resources from various programs to supplement the project funds.This will accelerate the rate of development of landwithin a short period of about three to five years.However, the implementation experiences also necessitate redesigning the treatment approach, so as to transit from current over-emphasis on engineering-centric soil & water conservation at the costof agronomic and other biological treatments. Secondly, it needs to recognize the importance of creating farm and non-farm- based livelihood options, and enrol every member in the project area as a stake holder. Thirdly, peoples`responsibility for resolving demands side management, as they learn to own the Project in the interest of long-term sustainability.

    The Department of Land Resources, Ministry of Rural Development has been implementing a Centrally Sponsored Scheme (CSS) ‘Integrated Watershed Management Programme’ (IWMP) since 2009-10, which was amalgamated as the Watershed Development Component of PMKSY (WDC-PMKSY) in 2015-16. The continuation of WDC-PMKSY has been allowed by Government of India on 15.12.2021 as ‘WDC-PMKSY 2.0’ for the project period of 2021-2026 with a physical target of 49.50 lakh ha and indicative Central financial outlay of Rs. 8,134 crore. The unit cost of projects has been revised upward from Rs 12,000/ha to Rs 22,000/ha for plain areas, and Rs 15,000/ha to Rs 28,000/ha for the difficult areas and LWE areas. The States/UTs have been asked to use GIS and Remote Sensing techniques for better planning of projects. The States/UTs have also been suggested to map activities from other sectors which could be taken up within the project areas for better convergence in a saturation mode. The project period has been reduced from existing 4 - 7 years to 3 - 5 years. On the recommendations of NITI Aayog, rejuvenation of Springshed has been incorporated as a new activity in the WDC-PMKSY 2.0 within the approved cost. Till date DoLR has sanctioned projects to States/UTs covering entire physical target of land under the WDC-PMKSY 2.0 and the process of release of Central grant is under way.

The fundamental shift in approach of watershed development needs to be reflected visibly in the program planning, institution building, implementation, budgeting and monitoring & evaluation. In this context, new watershed programme (WDC-PMKSY 2.0) is envisaged to effect the following shifts: