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Jal Shakti Abhiyan will make water conservation a people's movement: Shekhawat

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Union Minister for Jal Shakti Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on Monday launched Jal Shakti Abhiyan and said that government's aim is to make water conservation a people's movement.

Speaking at a press briefing, Shekhawat said, "Water crisis is a major issue. We want to make Jal Shakti Abhiyan a people's movement. The United Nations has listed the issue of clean drinking water on number six on its sustainable development goals list. The UN expects all countries to provide clean drinking water to every household by 2030."

Shekhawat said, "In India per capita, water availability is decreasing. There are dangers of climate change as well so the country is becoming vulnerable. The rainwater harvesting capacity is only 8 per cent. So it is required to make water conservation a people's movement."

The Union Minister said, "The country is going through a water crisis. However, there are states like Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan who have shown positive results in water conservation. There are states that have taken community-based initiatives to handle the water crisis...Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants water conservation to become a people's movement Abhiyan. Before taking oath as the Prime Minister for the second term, he spoke about it in one of the episodes of 'Mann Ki Baat'."

"We are beginning this programme and the Central Water Commission officials will work with block level officials towards a strategy on how to develop water conservation issue a people's movement. Half of our country is under water stress. We do not want to convert it into water scarcity. I expect your co-operation in this," he said.

On being asked, how will government harvest the issue of water draining in rivers, Shekhawat said, "Prime Minister Modi had written to all the Sarpanchs in the country. If we work towards water restoration in villages i.e if the water in the villages remains there and used for agriculture then it will have a great impact on the harvesting of water. It is also not a very difficult task and people's initiative is also required to do the same."

To a question about whether the ministry is going to seek more funds in the upcoming budget for the water management proposed. "There is plenty of budget available in different schemes of the union government and the state government which can be used into a single scheme and focussed approach. As far as groundwater is considered, if we conserve the water in aquifers then this problem could be solved."

"The programme has to emerge as a people's movement, so we need to change people's mindset and we need to focus on the rational use of water. Agriculture is the main focus as 89 per cent is used by agriculture," he said.

On being asked how will NERGA be used in this programme, Shekhawat said, "In NREGA there is 65 per cent reservation for the natural resource management. Every state should take water conservation and restoration initiative. In Rajasthan, through Mukhyamantri Jal Savlambham Abhiyan, individual water bodies have been developed under NREGA."

"For urban areas, this programme is for changing mindset of the people. we are focusing on how to revive the water bodies that are contaminated. We also look forward to initiatives from corporate houses and NGOs in this. we want to develop this programme like Swach Bharat Abhiyaan," the Union Minister said.

"Our target is achieving sustainable development by 2030. However, 'Har Ghar Nal Se Jal' (Water to ever household) is mentioned in BJP's manifesto. We will work to achieve the target of providing clean drinking water to every household by 2024 as mentioned in the party's manifesto. Jal Shakti Abhiyan is to create sensitivity on this subject and get a focused approach on this issue," he said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, July 01 2019. 17:49 IST