With the adoption of the 73rd and 74th amendments, the emphasis of Indian planning is currently on local-level development and planning. In this context assessment, management and utilization of natural resources, especially land and water at local level, assume prime importance. For planning, development and implementation of rural development programmes at local level, the small watershed has been accepted as an integrated natural unit.
Planning and development of small watersheds call for rigorous understanding about the occurrence and movement of water in the surface and sub-surface systems along with soil and nutrient losses. Realizing the importance of the problem and gaps in understanding small watershed hydrology in Indian catchments, the coordinated programme on ‘Hydrology of Small Watersheds’ was launched by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, under its NRDMS (Natural Resources Data Management System) programme in 1997. The coordinated programme aims at the investigations on different phases of hydrologic cycle in small watersheds of five different agro-climatic regions of India and develops database and decision support systems. Hydrology of Small Watersheds has emanated out of the experiences and lessons learnt from the coordinated programme.