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Another Movement Like Swachh Bharat Shaping Up? See What Could It be

water conservation

Monsoon has arrived in the various parts of the country and the Monsoon session of the Parliament which is also the first session of the 17th Lok Sabha has also started. Thus, it is also time to discuss the issue of water as well.

The Modi government in its earlier period also has stressed on water conservation efforts and irrigation. PM Modi in his addresses had regularly appealed for water conservation. Actions on the ground was also visible with the effective use of MGNREGA to work on water conservation measures and Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana bringing prudency in the water management. Water has assumed even more significance in public discourse after BJP in its 2019 manifesto promised piped water connection to every household by 2024.

Since BJP’s promises are based on the track record of its delivery, it is natural for people to build expectations on the stated goals such as piped water. The Modi government 2.0 also had hit the ground running in fulfilling this target. We have earlier explained in detail, PM Modi’s Holistic Vision for Clean Drinking Water in the backdrop of the setting up Jal Shakti, a ministry for water resources and related issues. Thereafter, many developments have taken place in the sphere of administration which clearly indicate the big push on the issue of water.

Water on Top of Every Agenda

The first interaction with the secretaries with Prime Minister in his second term has put water as a top priority to work on.

PM Modi on June 8 has written a letter to all the Sarpanches of India urging them to ensure water conservation at their village level. Considering the fact that the water conservation efforts can be fruitful only with the involvement at the village level, PM inspiring the village heads directly is an innovative method. As in the case of cleanliness campaign, here too the PM is emphasising on people’s participation as he asked the Sarpanches to discuss the issue among their communities.

Recently, the fifth meeting of the Governing Council of NITI Aayog was held under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi in which every state and union territory took part. Did you know what was the top issue among the five matters that were discussed as part of the agenda? ‘Rainwater harvesting’ was the first issue taken for the discussion followed by another topic ‘drought situation and relief measures’. Some states did offer their model in dealing with these issues. One example is seen below.

It is reported that the Centre has requested all states to adopt an approach similar to the newly-formulated Jal Shakti Ministry that integrates all ministries and bodies dealing with water under one umbrella. Minister of Jal Shakti himself apprised the developments that are taking place under his ministries in this tweet.

Proactive Administrative Machinery

It is clear that the Modi government is building a similar campaign to that of Swachhata Abhiyan in the arena of water as well. If you notice, much of the talk from the top officials in the last few days ever since the Modi government 2.0 has formed, is about water.

The CEO of NITI Ayog in a series of tweets, such as this, stressed on the need for water conservation. Secretary to the ministry of drinking water and sanitation, Parameswaran Iyer, in his article in The Indian Express has asserted that the water is at the top of development agenda of this government and opined, “Just like the country did in the Swachh Bharat Mission, India could lay out a template for other countries on securing national water security by integrating fragmented institutions and making water security everyone’s business.” It should be noted that the officials like Iyer have played an important role in the success of Swachh Bharat Abhiyan for which PM Modi had expressed his appreciation in a public gathering.

So, the same set of dedicated administrators who played a role in increasing the sanitation coverage of this country from 38% in October 2014 to the near 100% in 2019 are up for another task. This time the task is to improve our coverage of clean drinking water from 18% currently to 100% by 2024.