Government launches #JalShaktiAbhiyan with an aim to battle ongoing water crisis in India

New Delhi: With parts of India reporting extreme water shortages, the newly formed ministry of Jal Shakti on Monday launched a conservation campaign – ‘Jal Shakti Abhiyan’ that aims to focus on 1,592 stressed blocks in 256 districts of India. Earlier, the ministry has warned of an imminent threat, ‘Day Zero’ in certain states of India, where the groundwater level is falling at an alarming rate. ‘Day Zero’ means a situation when the government is forced to shut off the taps and strictly ration water for public and industrial use.

Also Read: Centre Working With States To Improve Water Situation, Says Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat

Sharing details about the newly launched campaign, Drinking Water Sanitation Secretary Parameswaran Iyer said that the water conservation campaign will be centered around on five aspects — water conservation and rainwater harvesting, renovation of traditional and other water bodies, reuse of water and recharging of structures, watershed development, and intensive afforestation. It will run through citizen participation during the monsoon, July 1 to Sep 15. Whereas, an additional phase II will run from October 1 to November 30 for states receiving the northeast retreating monsoons. To help the water-stressed blocks, Mr Iyer further added that the officers from the central government, led by additional secretaries and joint secretaries, have been assigned to these 256 districts. The district administration will also nominate two members to join these teams. Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said,

At a time when half the country is water stressed, time is apt to run this campaign so we don’t become a country facing water scarcity. The government aims at providing drinking water to every household on priority and in a sustainable manner. Jal Shakti Abhiyan should bring positive change in people for water conservation. The conservation efforts will be supplemented by initiatives like developing block and district water conservation plans and ‘krishi vigyan kendra melas’ to promote efficient water use for irrigation and better crop choices.

Centre also plans to loop in different groups including school students, college students, swachhagrahis, Self Help Groups, Panchayati Raj Institution members, youth groups (NSS/NYKS/NCC), defence personnel, ex-servicemen and pensioners, among various others, to make ‘Jal Shakti Abhiyan’, a large-scale people’s movement. The government also plans to run this water conservation campaign in a similar way as the Swachch Bharat Abhiyan.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his first monthly radio broadcast post-re-election ‘Mann Ki Baat’ also talked about the prevailing water crisis in the country and urged citizens to conserve water and use it cautiously. On Monday, after the campaign for water conservation was launched, PM Modi on his social media said,

I urge my fellow Indians to wholeheartedly support the #JalShaktiAbhiyan.

Let us leave no stone unturned in strengthening the mass movement to conserve water. #JanShakti4JalShakti

View Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Post

Showing the support for the campaign, celebs too joined in to urge citizens of India on the need to conserve water and create awareness at the grassroots level. Actor Amitabh Bachchan sharing a short video message on his social media said,

Government’s ‘Jal Shakti Abhiyan’ means ‘Sanchay Jal, Behtar kal’ (save water for better tomorrow). Water is our life’s and earth precious resource. To battle water scarcity and drought, we need to do ‘Jal Sanchay’ which means to collect and ‘Jal Sanrakshan’, to protect it. We all need to come and make this movement a ‘jan andolan’, we need to start saving water on an urgent basis.

On the other hand, Aamir Khan, who is also involved with water conservation efforts in Maharashtra through his Paani Foundation, said,

Jal hai to kal hai and that is why we all need to help save the valuable treasure like water in our lives. We all have to pledge to use water judiciously and protect it, not just for today, but for the upcoming generations and our children. To battle water scarcity and drought, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched ‘Jal Shakti Abhiyan’, under this campaign, the top authorities of the government will be working in the villages suffering from the water crisis. This team will discuss with you the efforts that can be taken over the issue, so that water is easily available for all villages in every season. Let us all, in this monsoon, save rainwater, clean our water bodies and make ‘Jal Shakti Abhiyan’ a successful mission.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his social media praised the efforts of Amitabh Bachchan and Aamir Khan for their efforts in creating awareness.

“Wise words from @SrBachchan, which will surely inspire you towards conserving water and urging others to do so as well! #JanShakti4JalShakti,” PM Modi said.

PM Modi also responded to Aamir Khan, said,

“Extremely valid points by @aamir_khan on the need to conserve water and create awareness at the grassroots level,” said PM Modi, re-tweeting Aamir Khan’s video.

Also Read: National Commission For Women Writes To Delhi Government Over Water Scarcity In The South Delhi Area

Experts Speak

NDTV also spoke with few of the experts to know their opinion about the newly launched initiative by the government to save and conserve water in India.

Environmentalist Rajinder Singh, who is also popularly known as the “Waterman”, said,

Last time, during the same time period, the same government and prime minister launched an initiative to rejuvenate the mighty Ganga. It promised to do so much about it. But nothing has happened till date. The government needs to understand that ‘jal is not shakti’, ‘jal is jeevan’. The government said that they will ensure piped water supply to all households, but the question is how the government will do this when there is no water in the first place. Centre needs to make water management a decentralised or community driven scheme, currently, it is just like a business model.

Also Read: The Waterman Of India, Rajendra Singh, Says ‘Water Literacy’ Is Need Of The Hour As Country Faces Water Crisis

K.J. Joy of the Pune -based Society for Promoting Participative Ecosystem Management (SOPPECOM) underlined the fact that an overall change towards water is required in the country. He said,

It’s a welcome thing to integrate all the water-related departments as suggested by various experts committees. But unless we change our overall approach towards the water and the mindset towards water management, the change of the name or making a separate ministry alone will not help. We need a holistic and multilayer approach to address the issue that India is facing its biggest water crisis today.

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swachh India campaign lends support to the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan, the campaign aims to spread awareness about hygiene and sanitation, the importance of building toilets and making India open defecation free (ODF) by October 2019, a target set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, when he launched Swachh Bharat Abhiyan in 2014. Over the years, the campaign has widened its scope to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and menstrual hygiene. The campaign has also focused extensively on marine pollutionclean Ganga Project and rejuvenation of Yamuna, two of India’s major river bodies.

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