M.E.L.D West Bengal


Government of India is committed to give high priority to water security. ‘Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana' has been launched in 2015 towards this endeavour. The Programme envisages four components namely, Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP), PMKSY (HarKhetkoPani), PMKSY (Per Drop More Crop) and PMKSY (Watershed Development). Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) which was launched in 2009-10 country wide for addressing the water security needs of rain fed areas for improved crop production and livelihood improvement through conservation and judicious use of natural resources like soil, water, natural vegetation etc. IWMP has been integrated in PMKSY as PMKSY (Watershed Development Component) in 2015.

PMKSY (WDC) erstwhile IWMP is being implemented as per the “Common Guideline for Watershed Development 2008 (Revised 2011)”. As per the guideline, “Monitoring, Evaluation Learning and Documentation (MELD)” is a constituent part of the programme which is to be operated by an independent professional agency having adequate expertise in the subject as well as in monitoring and evaluation. The agency to be selected through an open transparent process following “Quality cum Cost Basis Selection (QCBS)” system. MELD system is to function concurrently with the programme implementation process. Major tasks to be performed by appointed MELD Agency are as follows:

  1. Concurrent Monitoring & Reporting: To perform monitoring on physical and financial progress beside examining conformity of project execution with reference to the guideline as well as approved Detailed Project Report (DPR). Periodical reporting providing project wise progressive account of physical and financial progress as well as highlighting identified issues relating to the project execution process is a prime task of MELD agency. This is to facilitate project execution functionaries in adopting corrective measures for harnessing optimum socio-economic impact out of the investment.

  2. Periodic Evaluation& Impact Assessment: Each project is to pass through three phases namely “Preparatory Phase” (initial 2 years), “Work Phase” (next 2 years) and “Consolidation Phase” (next one year). Phase wise evaluation is mandatory for each project for being eligible to enter into the next phase and MELD agency has to conduct the evaluation based upon the evaluation parameters prescribed in the guideline and in consultation of the State Level Nodal Agency (SLNA). Beside the MELD Agency is to undertake midterm and Final Impact Assessment Based upon indicators prescribed by Dept. of Land Resources (DoLR), Govt. of India, vide “ Benchmarking Indicators for Watershed Management Outcomes: Operational Guideline 2015)”

  3. Continuous Learning Process: One of the major tasks of MELD Agency is to share its observations out of concurrent progress and process monitoring among project execution functionaries at all levels (State, district and project level) with appropriate analysis to facilitate then to identify short comings and rectify them.

  4. Documentation:MELD agency is supposed to undertake following activities under this task area namely,
    • Identifying various success stories jointly with the Project Implementing Agency (PIA) and documenting the same as success story
    • Conducting Thematic Studies on various themes jointly identified with SLNA.
    • Preparing befitting publicity materials illustrating various activities and success stories for public viewing.

  • In West Bengal implementation of PMKSY (WDC) erstwhile IWMP commenced from financial year 2011-12 although actual project activity started since 2012-13. Total 119 projects with a total treatable area of 506500 ha. is under implementation which have been taken up in two batches as detailed below:

  • Financial Year Batch Total No. of Projects Total Treatable Area (Ha) No. of Districts Covered
    2011-12 III 77 323200 10
    2012-13 IV 42 183300 9
    Total   119 506500 10

    Treatable Area Under PMSY (WDC) in West Bengal

    District Wise Distribution of Batch III & IV Projects In West Bengal and Treatable Area

    District No. of Projects Treatable Area (Ha)
    Batch III Batch IV Batch III Batch IV
    Bankura 15 6 59800 23800
    Birbhum 4 3 17200 13400
    Burdwan 1 0 3800 0
    Coochbehar 5 5 25000 23800
    Darjeeling 7 6 27900 22700
    District No. of Projects Treatable Area (Ha)
    Batch III Batch IV Batch III Batch IV
    Jalpaiguri 8 2 36200 9100
    North 24 Parganas 1 3 4400 14700
    South 24 Parganas 7 5 28200 22100
    Paschim Medinipur 16 5 64800 22700
    Purulia 13 7 55900 31000
    Total 77 42 323200 183300

    Ecological Regions for Watershed Managementis one of the key feature in PMKSY (WDC) Implementation. Department of Land Resources (DoLR), Govt. of India, has distributed whole country into eight (8) agro-ecological zones. These are namely, Western & Eastern Himalayas (zone 1), Eastern Highlands (zone 2), Deccan Plateau (zone 3), Central Highland (zone 4), Eastern & Western Ghats (zone 5), Coastal Plains (zone 6), Dessert (zone 7), Indo-Gangetic Plain, Brahmaputra & Barak Valley (zone 8). Out of these eight zones, four zones namely, zone 1 (Western & Eastern Himalayas), zone 2 (Eastern Highlands) zone 6 (Coastal Plains) and zone 8 (Indo- gangetic Plain) exist in West Bengal. Thus in the state a diversified treatment approach has been taken. Map of West Bengal showing ecological regions with corresponding number of projects and total project cost may be seen at a glance in the following figure:

    In West BengalMELD system has been institutionalised in March 2015 which was tenable for four years from the date of agreement. Through an open competitive process AFC India Limited was selected and engaged a MELD Agency for operating the system. Since March 2015 AFC has been operating the system in right earnest and has been continuously providing support to PIAs, WCDCs and also SLNA through learning inputs. Although the agreement for MELD operation executed between AFC and West Bengal State Watershed Development Agency (SLNA, West Bengal) has expired on 31.03.2019, AFC has not stopped its functioning since projects are yet to be closed and quitting of AFC at this stage may create a vacuum which may adversely affect successful closing of ongoing projects. As such MELD operation in West Bengal by AFC is still ongoing although the service is being strategically withdrawn following a consensus exit strategy.

    Tasks performed by AFC as MELD Agency for West Bengal are as follows:

    1. Recruitment and Training of Field Personnel for MELD Operation:Project Associates having required qualification and experience were recruited under the project as Field Personnel. They were given adequate trainings in-house before deployment to field and also provided periodical training. Till now 9 (nine) in-house training programmes conducted for MELD personnel.

    2. Opening of Field Offices at Project Districts:AFC has opened eight (8) field offices at Bankura, Paschim Medinipur, Purulia, Birbhum, Coochbehar, Jalpaiguri, Darjeeling and South 24 Parganas for managing concurrent monitoring activities. Each Field Offices were manned with District Coordinator and Field Officers based upon number of projects in the district. Field Offices have been closed on 30.04 2019 in view of expiry of MELD Agreement.

    3. Establishment of Core Team at State Level:Headed by Dr. S.Bhattacharyya, Sr. Consultant and Team Leader of MELD, West Bengal a core team of experts has been constituted. Key Members of the core team apart from the Team Leader were:
      • Mrs. Rai De (Mukherjee), MIS Expert
      • Dr. Aniruddha Chakraborty, Sociologist and Livelihood Expert
      • Dr. Satyajit Ganguly, Institution and Capacity Building Expert.

    4. Beside above named experts two persons were also engaged both from Agriculture background but owing to their poor performances and unethical activities, their contractual appointments were terminated after one and half years.

    5. Launching of MELD Activities:MELD operation was initiated through a 2 days state level workshop organised at SIPRD, Kalyani, Nadia, West Bengal in which all Project Managers of WCDCs a few PIAs nominated by concerned Project Managers, Technical Experts of SLNA, A few experts invited by SLNA, the CEO & Secretary, WBSWDA (SLNA, West Bengal) participated. Pre-launching sensitization about MELD including operating tools and methodology remained focus area in the workshop. Following the state level work shop at each project district 2 days workshops were organised for WDT Members and Watershed Committee Members.

    6. Concurrent Progress and Process Monitoring:This was a monthly activity in tandem. District Coordinators/ Field Officers visited each project every month and up dated physical and financial progress component wise. A highly structured monitoring format was devised and administered for the purpose. The format was designed keeping ample cross information/ questions which remained highly effective in identifying process related issues in terms of classical project management theories (i.e. sequencing, balancing, scheduling, alignment with documented project plan and quality). A complete users’ focused approach was adopted. Effectiveness of the assets created was judged through interaction with users of the assets. One of the major agenda of concurrent monitoring was assessing functioning of Watershed Committees. One watershed committee in each project was visited every months and thus almost every quarter WCs were visited. Major functional indicators assessed were as follows:
      • Compliance of statutory obligations of a registered society
      • Maintenance of statutory records and documents
      • Maintenance of project related documents
      • Live linkage with community
      • Perception of watershed committee functionaries

    7. Baseline Evaluation and Generation of Report:As per the agreed terms of reference AFC’s West Bengal MELD Team has completed baseline assessment of the whole state as per the agreed methodology. Baseline assessment has been done on the basis of indicators prescribed in “ Benchmarking Indicators for Watershed Management Outcome: Operational Guideline 2015” issued by DoLR, Govt. of India and baseline values have been established separately for four ecological regions of West Bengal. Draft report has been submitted to SLNA and comments on draft report from SLNA is awaited. The baseline assessment report would be used in end line evaluation and impact assessment of all projects upon its finalization.

    8. Phase Wise Evaluation and Impact Assessment: Preparatory phase evaluation of batch III projects have been completed before MELD system has been institutionalised in West Bengal and AFC stepped in. After initiating MELD operation AFC has completed
      • Preparatory Phase Evaluation of 42 batch IV projects spread over 9 districts. Final report has been submitted.
      • After closing of work phase activities of 77 batch III projects on 28.02 2019 AFC has launched Work Phase Evaluation of batch III projects spread over 10 districts. Preliminary report has been submitted on 30th. March 2019.
      • At present as desired by the SLNA, West Bengal AFC’s West Bengal MELD Team is in the process of preparing End Line Evaluation Report for those 77 batch III projects.

    9. Collaboration with Academic & Research Institutions for Evaluation:AFC has availed the expert service of 8 eminent agricultural scientists for conducting end line evaluation of 77 batch III projects. One of them is Principal Scientist of ICAR National Bureau of Soil Survey & Land Use Planning (NBSS-LUP) three are from among the senior faculties of Uttar Banga Krishi Viswavidyalaya (UBKV) and four are from among senior faculties of Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswavidyalaya (BCKV). AFC has also engaged a few Ph.D. scholars of UBKV and BCKV in the process of evaluation and thus apart from providing them some real life field exposure provided them opportunity to earn while they learn.

    10. Learning Activities:Every year of MELD operation AFC organises state level and district level learning workshops. Till now three state level workshops and two rounds of district level learning workshops have been organised. In each workshop MELD Team shared their findings and views to empower Project Managers and their personnel and PIAs and their personnel to identify short comings and rectify the same for better impact out of the investment.

    11. Field Level Learning Activities In lieu of 3rd. round of district level learning workshop:In 3rd. State Level Learning Workshop under MELD it has been observed that process observations flagged by AFC’s MELD West Bengal Team have largely complied by most of the PIAs. Despite that certain issues mostly related to physical and financial progress still existed. However issues were very much project specific. It was therefore decided that instead of district level workshops MELD Team shall visit each of the 77 batch III projects which would be shortly closed and shall undertake in situ Field Level Learning Programmes at each project taking WDT members and watershed committee members. Programme was undertaken during the period from June 2018 to December 2018. The programme found very effective in accelerating physical and financial progress through boosting of watershed committee functioning.

    12. Participation in Capacity Building Efforts of PIAs:AFC’s MELD Team has participated in capacity building initiatives of PIAs whenever invited. Although total number of invitation received so far is only 5 (five) all the invitations were attended with due earnest often keeping aside other works:

    13. Documentation Activities:Under this task area of MELD AFC’s team has emphasised on following aspects:
      • Identification and documentation of success stories out of project intervention. So far 124 success stories have been identified of which 82 have been documented. AFC generates and submits “Best Practice Report” containing different success stories annually. Till now 3 reports have been released containing 59 success stories. Documentation of more success stories is underway
      • AFC has created 30 nos. of “Wall Hangings” depicting interventions made under PMKSY (WDC) in different ecological zones of West Bengal and consequent emergence of socio-economic impact out of interventions made. These were made as an innovative tool for public awareness and handed over to WBSWDA (SLNA, West Bengal). These wall hangings are being displayed in various exhibitions, seminars and other state govt. programmes like “Krishi Mela” etc.
      • Worth mentioning that in “Conference on Farmers First for Conservation of Soil & Water Resources in Eastern Region 2019” held in February 2019 at Sunabeda, Koraput, Odisha, organised by Indian Association of Soil and Water Conservation with ICAR- IISWC, Sunabeda, Koraput, these visuals were displayed in a stall by WBSWDA, which created immense interest among participants (scientists, bureaucrats and Farmers) as well as other visitors.
      • AFC’ West Bengal MELD team has conducted three (3) Thematic Studies as follows:
        • Impact of watershed development works in augmenting agricultural production and consequent improvement in farm based livelihood
        • Status of Watershed Associations formed under IWMP as self-propelled civil society in managing the treated watershed and operating Watershed Development Fund generated under the project.
        • Impact of Livelihood Action Plan under IWMP in augmenting SHG movement through institutional sustainability and micro-enterprise formation.
      • One report has already been published and remaining two reports shall be released shortly.

    14. Balance works to be completed by AFC’s West Bengal MELD Team: Although the agreement between AFC and WBSWDA for MELD operation has expired on 31.03 2019, upholding its professional commitment, AFC has been continuing its function with a skeletal establishment to complete its balance works which not yet been completed owing to extension of project tenure up to 31.03.2020. Balance works are as follows:
      • Conducting 4th. and final learning workshop which would thoroughly analyse success and shortcomings of the project implementation including policy analysis and suggestions for policy adjustments.
      • Conducting Work Phase and End Line Evaluation of 42 batch IV projects.
      • Formal closing of MELD through concluding workshop and generation of closing report.

    15. Worth mentioning that AFC’s team has been providing full hearted support to SLNA towards their endeavour to close all 119 projects and observing closing protocol as prescribed by DoLR, Govt. of India.