As India faces a deficient monsoon season and a widespread water crisis, the Narendra Modi led NDA government is launching a pan-Indian campaign, the “Jal Shakti Abhiyan” to target water-stressed areas to being conservation initiatives.
The campaign will be launched across the country on July 1 by Jal Shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat. Reportedly, the minister has roped in 255 bureaucrats across different departments and ministries, nominating them for one water-stressed district each. They have been appointed as Central Prabhari Officers of 255 water-stressed districts for coordinating the Jal Shakti Abhiyan.
The Central Prabhari officers will visit identified blocks and districts, and coordinate the implementation of various water harvesting and conservation measures.
“We have to start going on the field for conservation efforts and mobilise the public to take part in water conservation,” a senior government official said.
The objective 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, especially 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.
“The first step will be to draw an inventory of water resources and the groundwater availability in these areas,” said a government official.
The campaign will run till September 15 in the states that receive rainfall from the south-west monsoon. For the states which receive the retreating north-east monsoon, the campaign will be held from October 1 to November 30.
Reportedly, the Jal Shakti Abhiyan would aim to accelerate water harvesting, conservation and borewell recharge activities augmenting the existing activities under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme and the Integrated Watershed Management Programme of the Rural Development Ministry.
Block and district-level water conservation plans would be drafted, and Kisan Vigyan Kendras would hold melas to promote better crop choices and more efficient water use for irrigation.
A major communications campaign on TV, radio, print, local and social media would be carried out, similar to PM Modi’s Swachch Bharat Mission in 2016, in which a mass movement was initiated with celebrities mobilised to generate awareness for the campaign.
As India is set to face a deficient monsoon this year and the country is already facing a drought-like condition ahead of the monsoon, water conservation measures are need of the hour. The ‘Jal Shakti’ Abhiyan 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.
A recent NITI Aayog study has predicted that by 2030, the country’s water demand is going to be increased two times the available supply, implying severe water scarcity for millions of people, which may impact with 6 per cent loss in the country’s GDP.
In his maiden Mann Ki Baat speech after his re-election, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called upon people to start a mass movement for water conservation and resolve to save every drop of water amidst water scarcity in several parts of the country.
Prime Minister Modi had said an awareness campaign should be started which should not only focus on water-related problems but also propagate ways to save water.