In the fifth year plan, watershed management approach was included with a number of programs for it and a national policy was developed. In watershed management the aspects of development are considered with regard to availability of the resources.
The practices of conservation and development of land and water are taken up with respect to their suitability for people's benefit as well as sustainability. Various measures taken up for management include the following:
1. Water harvesting: Proper storage of water is done with provision for use in dry seasons in low rainfall areas. It also helps in moderation of floods.
2. Afforestation and agro-forestry: In watershed development, afforestation and crop plantation play a very important role. They help to prevent soil erosion and retention of moisture. In high rainfall areas, woody trees are grown in between crops to substantially reduce the runoff and loss of fertile soil. In Dehradun trees like Eucalyptus, Leucaena and grasses like chrysopogon are grown along with maize or wheat to achieve the objectives. Woody trees grown successfully in such agro-forestry programs include Sheesham, Teak and Keekar which have been used in watershed areas of river Yamuna.
3. Mechanical measures for reducing soil erosion and runoff losses: Several mechanical measures like terracing, bunding, bench terracing, no-till farming, contour cropping, strip cropping etc. are used to minimize runoff and soil erosion particularly on the slopes of watersheds. Bunding has proved to be a very useful method in reducing runoff, peak discharge and soil loss in Dehradun and Siwaliks
4. Scientific mining and quarrying: Due to improper mining, the hills lose stability and get disturbed resulting in landslides, rapid erosion etc. Contour trenching at an interval of one meter on overburdened dump, planting some soil binding plants land draining of water courses in the mined area are recommended for minimizing the destructive effects of mining in watershed areas.
5. Public participation: People's involvement including the farmers and tribals is the key to the success of any watershed management program, particularly the soil and water conservation. People's cooperation as well as participation has to be ensured for the same. The communities are to be motivated for protecting a freshly planted areas and maintaining a water harvesting structure implemented by the government or some external agency (NGO) independently or by involving the locale people. Properly educating the people about the campaign and its benefits or sometimes paying certain incentives to them can help in effective people's participation.
Successful watershed management has been done at Sukhomajri Panchkula, Haryana through active participation of the local people.
Watershed management in Himalayan region is of vial importance since most of the watersheds of our country lie there. Several anthropogenic activities accelerate its slope instability which need to be prevented and efforts should be made to project the watershed by preventing overgrazing, terracing and contour farming to check runoff and erosion etc. On steeper slopes with sliding faces, straw mulching tied with thin wires and ropes helps in establishing the vegetation and stabilizing the slopes.