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#WorldWaterDay: India’s efforts on water conservation, cleaning rivers, and supplying safe water to every household

The campaign aims at encouraging the states and stake-holders to take steps towards rainwater harvesting by creating appropriate Rain Water Harvesting Structures (RWHS) suitable to the climatic conditions and sub-soil strata before the monsoon.

अपवन्तरमृतमप्सु

This Rigvedic phrase means, ‘there is nectar in water, there is medicine in water‘.

With this report, we bring to you all that you need to know about India’s efforts towards conserving water, bringing sustainable development and the Modi government’s goal of providing clean drinking water to every household by 2024.

India has long been reeling under the grave issue of water crisis; from lack of safe drinking water to unavailability of potable water to deteriorating condition of major rivers. These are just some of the issues India has been grappling with no solution in sight.

However, understanding the importance of water and water conservation in the socio-economic development of the country, the Government of India launched the Ministry of Jal Shakti in May 2019. Integrating various departments and ministries dealing with water resources and water supply, the Ministry of Jal Shakti spearheads a pan-Indian movement addressing water issues at several levels.

Today, on World Water Day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is all set to launch ‘Catch the Rain’ campaign.

Extending the Jal Shakti Abhiyan, PM Modi will be launching National Water Mission’s (NWM) campaign ‘Catch The Rain’ with the tagline “Catch the rain, where it falls, when it falls”. The campaign aims at encouraging the states and stake-holders to take steps towards rainwater harvesting by creating appropriate Rain Water Harvesting Structures (RWHS) suitable to the climatic conditions and sub-soil strata before the monsoon.

This campaign will see an integrated approach to check dams, water harvesting pits, removal of encroachments to increase a tanks storage capacity, removal of obstructions in the channels which bring water to them from the catchment areas and repairing of step-wells with the active participation of people.

To encourage public participation, states have been requested to open ‘Rain Centers’ in each district with dedicated mobile phone number of a rain water harvesting structure engineer.

Poster of National Water Mission’s (NWM) campaign “Catch The Rain”. Image source: Ministry of Jal Shakti

Atal Bhujal Yojna (ATAL JAL):

In this scheme for facilitating sustainable groundwater management, the government has laid emphasis on community participation for sustainable groundwater management in 8353 identified water-stressed areas in seven states of the country. The scheme envisions to improve source sustainability for Jal Jeevan Mission, contribute to government’s goal of ‘doubling farmers income’ and inculcating behavioral changes in the community to facilitate optimal water use. The scheme is being taken up in Gram Panchayats of Haryana, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

Namami Gange:

Namami Gange is a comprehensive and integrated conservation mission with prime objective to contain and restrict pollution, conserve the Ganges and rejuvenation of National River Ganga. The program is built on multiple pillars such as sewerage treatment infrastructure, river-front development to boost tourism, river-surface cleaning, preserving bio-diversity, afforestation and industrial effluent monitoring.

A flagship program inaugurated in 2014 has witnessed some major developments.

Data source: Ministry of Jal Shakti

Har Ghar Jal Yojna:

The Har Ghar Jal Yojna aims at providing a functional household tap connection to every household by 2024. The entire mission aims at improving the lives and reduce the drudgery of women, especially girls by providing safe water in every household through a tap connection. It is to ensure that every rural house receives an adequate quantity of potable water on a regular and long-term basis. The program has marked monumental progress as, under the initiative, 84.84 lakh households were provided with tap connections in 2019-2020. 71 Lakh people in Arsenic contaminated areas and 5.35 Lakh people in Fluoride contaminated areas, were provided safe drinking water in the same duration, and also villagers are being skilled as masons, plumbers, electricians, etc. so as to ensure long-term maintenance of water supply systems. In yet another thoughtful step, approximately five women in every village are trained to check the quality of water supply using simple ready-to-use test kits.

Functional Household Tap Connections provided under Jal Jeevan Mission. Image source: Jal Jeevan Mission Report

Jal Shakti Abhiyan:

Led by the Minister of Jal Shakti, officers, groundwater experts and scientists from the Government of India are working together with state and district officials in the most water-stressed districts for water conservation and water resource management by focusing on extensive implementation of: water conservation and rainwater harvesting, renovation of traditional and other water bodies / tanks, reuse and recharge of bore well structures, watershed development and intensive afforestation.

Community-led step well rejuvenation in Jalore, Rajasthan. Image source: Jal Jeevan Mission Report

Currently 28 schemes and programs are active under the Ministry of Jal Shakti focusing on irrigation, flood management, ground water management, river basin management, hydro plants and many more.

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