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Water crisis: Govt ropes in 255 bureaucrats for Jal Shakti Abhiyan

The aim of the programme is to increase the water table in the stressed areas through dams, ponds, afforestation

Ruchika Chitravanshi & Somesh Jha  |  New Delhi 

'Nal se jal': Ministry eyes team effort to work on water economics

As India faces a deficit monsoon season and widespread water shortages, the government is launching a pan-Indian campaign — the “Jal Shakti Abhiyan” — targeting water-stressed areas for stocktaking and conservation initiatives.

The campaign, to be launched on July 1 by Jal Shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, has roped in 255 bureaucrats across different departments and ministries, nominating them for one water-stressed district each. “We have to start going on the field for “sanchay” and mobilise the public to take part in water conservation,” a senior government official said.

The aim of the programme is to increase the water table in the stressed areas through dams, ponds, afforestation. The campaign will also involve cleaning up of water bodies, specially the old and neglected ones. In order to make it a public movement, a team of officials from the centre to the local level will head to water-stressed areas to involve the local community, students to drive the campaign.

“First step will be to draw an inventory of water resources and the ground water availability in these areas,” another government official said.

Around 40 per cent of the country is staring at drought-like conditions ahead of the monsoon as water levels have receded sharply. The performance of the southwest monsoon, which started on June 1, has been well below expectations.

The rains reached the country after a delay of almost eight days on June 8, but thereafter, the progress hasn’t been satisfactory. In the first two weeks, the southwest monsoon has been a whopping 46 per cent less than normal.

The programme will be implemented in two phases between July and September, during the monsoon season, during which government officials will visit their respective districts at least three times.

On similar lines, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched the Swachch Bharat Mission in 2016 on the eve of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary. Scores of government officials and ministers took part in the campaign with targets for toilet construction to make India open-defecation free.

Modi had also nominated celebrities, including actors Kamal Haasan, Salman Khan, Priyanka Chopra, to take part in the Clean India initiative, calling upon each of them to nominate more people.

According to a NITI Aayog study, by 2030, the country’s water demand is projected to be twice the available supply, implying severe water scarcity for hundreds of millions of people and an eventual 6 per cent loss in the country’s GDP.

First Published: Sun, June 30 2019. 23:20 IST
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