July 1, 2019 is to be marked as an important day, as the nation officially starts the ‘Jal Shakti Abhiyan’ to conserve water in this monsoon season. The mission will run from July 1 to September 15, and for selected states till November. In fact, PM Modi in his first Mann Ki Baat after his re-election has spoken in detail on the need for water conservation and specified the three ways to go about it as well. As soon as he returned to power, he made it clear that the water will be the top priority for his government in this term. You may read our earlier article Another Movement Like Swachh Bharat Shaping Up? See What Could It be.
But with the launch of Jal Shakti Abhiyan, specific administrative measures from the government have become evident and it is interesting to see how the Central government has planned this movement to reach the grassroots. It should be noted that water is a state subject. But it did not hold back the Modi government from designing an effective administrative structure to address the water crisis nationwide. This notification regarding the appointment of Block Nodal Officers for Jal Shakti Abhiyan gives the picture of how the government is planning to address the issue of water conservation. Along with this, media reports such as this and this provide the understanding of the government’s action that is to be unveiled for the next three months.
The Fine Print of Jal Shakti Abhiyan
- Jal Shakti Abhiyan will focus on 255 water-stressed districts.
- 255 central IAS officers of Joint or Additional Secretary-rank, drawn from ministries as varied as Space, Petroleum and Defencewill oversee the initiative.
- The senior officers designated as central prabhariofficers will be working with a team of nodal officers at director or deputy secretary level and groundwater scientists and engineers apart from the State and district teams.
- The initiative is expected to run from July 1 to September 15 in States receiving rainfall during the Southwest monsoon, while States receiving rainfall in the Northeast monsoon would be covered from October 1 to November 30.
- Rainwater harvesting, renovation of water bodies, borewell recharge, watershed development and intensive afforestation are the focus areas.
Jal Shakti Abhiyan Reminds Us of Gram Swaraj Abhiyan
We may see similar successful efforts in the Gram Swaraj Abhiyan which was carried in two phases where the administrative machinery had been given the task of saturation of eligible households/persons under seven flagship pro-poor programmes in the selected villages. We have dealt on this topic in our earlier article Is ‘India Lives in Villages’ a Clichéd Line or Are There Any Actions on the Ground?
Making Water Conservation a Mass Movement
PM Narendra Modi and the Jal Shakti minister have spoken often on water conservation and have said that this will be made into a people’s movement. In his Mann ki Baat episode on June 30, PM Modi has already initiated the process of people’s participation when he deliberated on three ways to do water conservation.
First, he asked the people to treat water as God’s prasad and asked the people associated with the film, sports, social service and other walks of life to participate in bringing awareness about water conservation.
Secondly, he requested the people to share ideas about traditional methods that have been in use over the centuries in our country for the conservation of water.
Thirdly, he wanted people to share the information concerning the people who are making significant contributions towards water conservation, NGOs and everyone else associated in the area of water conservation in order to create an intensive database of individuals and organizations dedicated to water preservation.
Thus, the Jal Shakti Abhiyan, both with administrative and awareness approaches, has begun its journey.