The whole world is experiencing acute water crisis and India is not an exception. More than 50 per cent of India’s population still depends on agriculture. The groundwater level has gone so down that even farmers are facing irrigation problem. However, it is worth mentioning that using groundwater for agriculture is not a good idea when people are unable to get drinking water. Therefore, millions of people are facing this dire crisis. One of the biggest concerns is that people living in rural India still aren’t able to get purified water as the groundwater of several places is contaminated or not drinkable. Owing to this contaminated water, people are suffering from various diseases. So, it’s a matter of health also.
According to NITI Aayog report published in 2018, 600 million Indians face high to extreme water stress and about two lakh people die every year due to inadequate access to safe water. The report says that 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% loss in the country’s GDP.
“As per the report of National Commission for Integrated Water Resource Development of Jal Shakti, earlier Ministry of Water Resource, the water requirement by 2050 is likely to be a milder 1,180 Billion Cubic Metre (BCM), whereas the present-day availability is 695 BCM,” NITI Aayog report said.
Seeing this extreme crisis, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his second tenure, has focused more on this issue. He has written a letter to all Sarpanchs regarding the importance of water conservation and harvesting and exhorted them to adopt all appropriate measures to make water conservation a mass movement.
Recently, the Union Government, under the leadership of Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Minister of Jal Shakti, launched Jal Shakti Abhiyan to create awareness on the benefits of water conservation and declining sources of water in the country. According to Jal Shakti Minister, the Jal Shakti Abhiyan has been launched in two phases. The first phase is from 1st July to 15th September and the second phase will be between 1st October and 30th November for states with retreating monsoon. Under Jal Shakti Abhiyan, focus will be on 256 water stressed districts and 1,592 water stressed blocks. The movement advocates conservation of river, river bodies and infrastructure should be undertaken in a scientifically planned manner through community participation. Further, encroachment and diversion of water bodies and drainage channels must not be allowed and wherever it has taken place, it should be restored to the extent feasible and maintained properly.
Talking on this issue, the well-known water conservationist & environmentalist, Rajendra Singh ( known as Waterman) said, “PM Modi in his ‘Man Ki Baat’ appealed to the people for initiation of National Programme of Jal-Jodo-Abhiyan. It’s not only praiseworthy but also the pride of nationalism. Linking of people’s mind with water resources and morally attaching the nation with rivers and all water bodies for their security and good quality is real need of the time.”
Pointing out the role of people in this initiative, Shri Singh said that the society and the government have equal right on water. Water is life for everyone. The Constitution gives us the right to live, and therefore, it is high time to bring legislation for the protection of water, which gives us life. Due to the legislation, people will take the onus to protect water. India consider water to be a gift from nature and the origin of human beings is not possible without water. The Indian government has taken an initiative to protect water. And this would be possible only if people and the government come together, said Shri Singh
“People should participate in this movement. Groundwater level should come up. Then only the rivers will flow freely and soil will improve. Weather will also improve. This improvement in water will tackle the problem of climate change. To make this country water-rich, we all will have to work together. Governments should also free community water management from the contract. The government should prevent privatisation of water and make it a social movement,” he further added.
By Ravi Mishra