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Water conservation measures in India

In June 2019, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had written to all Sarpanchs across the country stressing on importance of water conservation and harvesting and urged them to adopt all appropriate measures to make water conservation a mass movement. Saving every drop of water becomes even more imperative for a country like India, which houses more than 18% of the world’s population, but has got only 4% of world’s renewable water resources.

The current water requirement is estimated to be around 1,100 billion cubic meters per year. To meet this high requirement, the government, through various means and measures, has been trying to improve condition of water bodies and better treatment systems. Following are some of the prime measures that have been adopted and furthered

– Launch of Jal Shakti Abhiyan in 2019, a campaign intended to improve water availability, conservation and quality

– Circulation of Model Bill by Jal Shakti Ministry to states/UTs to enable them to enact suitable ground water legislation for regulation of its development, which has so far been adopted by 19 States/UTs.

– Central Ground Water Authority (CGWA) has been constituted under “Environment (Protection) Act, 1986” for regulation and control of ground water development and management.

– Master Plan for Artificial Recharge to Groundwater- 2020 has been prepared by CGWB, that envisages construction of about 1.42 crore Rain water harvesting and artificial recharge structures in the Country to harness 185 Billion Cubic Metre (BCM) of monsoon rainfall.

– Regular conduction of Mass awareness programmes (Trainings, Seminars, Workshops, Exhibitions, Trade Fares and Painting Competitions etc.)

– Support to construction of water harvesting and conservation works is provided by central government primarily through MGNREGS and Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana – Watershed Development Component (PMKSY-WDC).

– Atal Bhujal Yojana (ABHY), a Rs.6000 crore scheme with World Bank funding, for sustainable management of ground water with community participation is being taken up in the identified over-exploited and water stressed areas fall in 7 states of India.

– ‘Mission Water Conservation’, an actionable framework for Natural Resources Management has been developed to ensure gainful utilization of funds.

NRCP & Namami Gange initiatives

According to the last report published by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), a total of 351 polluted stretches were identified on 323 rivers based on monitoring results in terms of Bio-chemical Oxygen Demand (BOD), an indicator of organic pollution. The Jal Shakti Ministry has been providing financial and technical assistance to States/UTs for abatement of pollution in these identified stretches of rivers through schemes like Namami Gange Programme (for rivers in Ganga basin) and the National River Conservation Plan or NRCP (for other rivers). Allocation of budget and release of funds have been consistent for past couple of years, details of which are as follows:

Funds released for National River Conservation Plan

2018-19 – Rs 150.32 cr
2019-20 – Rs 136.66 cr
2020-21 – Rs 99.87 cr

Funds released for Namami Gange Programme

2018-19 – Rs 2626.54 cr
2019-20 – Rs 2673.09 cr
2020-21 – Rs 1339.97 cr

NRCP has so far been able to cover polluted stretches on 34 rivers (spread over 16 States) in the country and has created sewage treatment capacity of 2522.03 million litres per day (MLD). Similarly, under the Namami Gange programme, a total of 346 projects, including 158 projects for sewage treatment of 4948 MLD and sewer network of 5213 kms., have been sanctioned. These initiatives have resulted in reduction of pollution load in water bodies and improvement of water quality of the rivers. However, the efforts, both financial and otherwise, still indicate a slow progress. This is mainly because of the vastness of the water issue in the country.

3rd National Water awards

In order to encourage initiatives and recognise efforts made by states, districts, individuals, institutions, organisations etc. in attaining the government’s vision of a ‘Jal Samridh Bharat’, the Jal Shakti ministry launched the National Water Awards in 2018. The ministry announced winners of the third edition of these awards, honouring 57 States, Organizations, Individuals, etc. in 11 categories for their exemplary work.

– National Water awards: Best States

The most notable category is that of the ‘Best State category’, in which Uttar Pradesh has been awarded first prize. The state administration created additional irrigation potential of 361,060 hectares, benefitting 40 lakh farmers. In 2020 itself, 164,828 water conservation structures have been built, heralding an era of water security in the state. The states of Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu stood on Rank 2 and 3 respectively.

– National Water awards: Best Districts

North Zone: Muzaffarnagar District, UP emerged as 1st winner in North Zone. Over 5,000 water conservation structures have been constructed for water security in the district. Shahid Bhagat Singh Nagar district of Punjab bagged the second prize.

South Zone: The Thiruvananthapuram district of Kerala, which has renewed streams and brooks of the length of over 1,481.69 km, stood at Rank 1 as Best District in South Zone, while Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh held Rank 2.

East Zone: Bihar’s East Champaran district won this award for having successfully rejuvenated the 80 km long Dhanauti River through MGNREGA, whereas Godda (Jharkhand) stood as 2nd winner.

West Zone: One of the cleanest cities of India, Indore (MP) bagged the 1st prize here, while Vadodra (Gujarat) and Banswara (Rajasthan) districts jointly won the second.

North-east Zone: Assam’s Goalpara district, where a number of water conservation structures have been built for water security, emerged as 1st winner in this category. Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh held the second spot

Check full list of awards here – http://jalshakti-dowr.gov.in/sites/default/files/Press%20brief%20for%203rd%20National%20Water%20Awards.pdf

Sharing progress details with Public

The ministry publishes a monthly magazine namely, ‘Jalchakra’, which carries news and updates on projects and other activities being undertaken by the Government. The first edition was published in January 2019 and so far, 36 editions have been out. This is for all the stakeholders and participants, in order to encourage them to contribute towards the cause of water conservation and management. In addition to this, the ministry regularly releases Ground Water News Bulletin, which contains details of ongoing activities related to ground water, initiatives taken, success stories, etc. So far, 14 volumes have been published of the same. News letters (namely ‘Jalansh’) are also published regularly which carry details of various water projects and their progress.

To know about rivers, that have been restored in the country, visit – https://newsonair.com/2022/01/18/stories-of-restored-rivers-in-india/

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