India must work to become a water-secure nation, taking note of rivers and streams becoming cleaner during the national lockdown to contain the coronavirus, said Union Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on Friday.
Air and water pollution has reduced because most industries and offices were shut and people stayed home for almost two months, said Shekhawat, who is in charge of the Jal Shakti Ministry.
"During the lockdown period, everyone noticed that the rivers have become cleaner.There are three reasons for water pollution -- sewage, industrial effluents and human interactions," Shekhawat said during a virtual CII water summit.
Out of these, industry and the human interactions were closed due to the lockdown, resulting in cleaner water bodies, according to the minister, who urged everyone to introspect and "works towards making India a water secure nation".
नदियों को जोड़़ने की योजना पर खुले मन से राज्य साथ आएं।नदी जल के बंटवारे को लेकर राज्यों के बीच विवाद के जल्द निपटारे के लिए मोदी सरकार बिल लेकर आई है जिस में अब 5 साल के भीतर ट्रिब्यूनल को अपना फैसला देना होगा।@SaharaNewsNethttps://t.co/wzUrTNbyxs pic.twitter.com/ZyKBqxYGQX — Gajendra Singh Shekhawat (@gssjodhpur) May 21, 2020
He further said that during the lockdown period, as per the instructions of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, samples of Ganga water were taken to study how much pollution iscontributed through industrial effluents, which can be used for future planning.
Sharing his experience of a rafting expedition done last year from Devprayag to Rishikesh, the minister said that the water in that stretch of 90-odd kilometres was clean and even potable.
"We are confident that by the next Kumbh mela, we would have cleaned the river water till Haridwar. But, during our study we realised that it is the sewage which is amajor cause of water pollution," he added.
"The government has undertaken creation and maintenance of sewage treatment infrastructure under hybrid annuity based (model) and in the coming future, under the national river conservation directorate, we will undertake work on other five basins. But the ultimate result will come from jan andolan (mass movement), awareness and behavioural change," Shekhawat said.
He further said the government is doing its part, but then the industry will also have to support.
"Also, since water is a state subject, and various states are taking various initiatives, we will have to collectively work towards the goal of a water secured nation. Also, we need to figure out how we can conserve, harvest and judiciously usewater.
"Since agriculture, which uses nearly 89 per cent of water,is also a state subject, the governments will have to consider what togrow,how much to grow and for whom to grow," the minister added.
He said that the Haryana government has taken steps in that direction, and other states should also follow such a model.