My colleague in the Union Cabinet, Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat ji, Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan ji, Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, Shri Yogi Adityanath ji, Minister of State for Jal Shakti, Shri Rattan Lal Kataria ji, all the honorable officials, sarpanchesand panchesof villages across the country who are responsible for running this campaign, other public representatives, my dear brothers and sisters!
It is my privilege that today I got to listen to the leaders of our villages from different parts of the country who are committed towards nature and water and are taking along everybody in this mission. I got a new inspiration, energy and some new ideas after listening to them. I am sure whosoever listened to the exchanges that took place with these representatives would have learned something new. I also got to learn and so do our officers and the people will also get to learn.
I am happy that awareness regarding the importance of water is growing and efforts too are increasing in this direction. Today the International Water Day is being celebrated all over the world to highlight the importance of water. On this occasion, we have gathered here for two important issues today. Today a campaign is being launched which I had also mentioned in my ‘Mann kiBaat’ program. Along with the ‘Catch the Rain’ campaign, a major step has also been taken for the Ken Betwa Link canal to set an example before the world and resolve the water crisis in India. An agreement has been reached today in the interest of millions of families of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh which is a great initiative in realizing the dream of Atal ji. Had it not been for Corona, I would have personally come to Jhansi in Bundelkhand and hold a program in either Uttar Pradesh or Madhya Pradesh so that lakhs of people could come and bless us for such an important initiative.
Brothers and sisters,
Adequate availability of water is a very important factor for 21st century India. Water is the need of every household and every field; it is also very important for every aspect of life and economy. Today, when we talk about rapid growth and are making efforts in the direction, it is not possible without water security and effective water management. India's vision of development and self-sufficiency depends on our water sources and our water connectivity. A lot ought to have been done decades ago in view of the seriousness of the situation. I tell you from the experience of Gujarat that if we take the initiative to preserve water in a planned manner with participation of people, we will not have the problem of water scarcity and water will emerge as a more precious force than money. This should have been done long ago. But, unfortunately, it did not happen the way it should have been along with the involvement of people.As a result, the challenge of the water crisis is mounting as India moves ahead on the path of development. If the country is not concerned about water preservation and does not prevent the wastage of water, the situation will deteriorate in the coming decades. It is our responsibility that the water given to us by our ancestors should be made available for our future generations. There is no greater virtue than this. Therefore, let’s pledge that we will not allow the water to be wastedor misused, and we will have a spiritual relationship with water. Our sanctity will help in preservation of water. It is the responsibility of the present generation of the country to fulfillits responsibility from now onwards for generations to come.
Brothers and sisters,
Not only do we have to change the present situation, we also have to find solutions to future crises. Therefore, our government has prioritized water governance in its policies and decisions. A number of steps have been taken in this direction in the last six years. Expeditious work is being undertaken on the schemes whether it is the Pradhan Mantri Krishi SinchaiYojna, water campaign to every farm - Har Khet ko Paani, 'Per Drop More Crop' campaign and NamamiGange Mission, Jal Jeevan Mission or Atal Bhujal Yojana.
Amidst these efforts, it is also a matter of concern that most of the rain water is wasted in our country. The better India manages rainwater, the less the country's dependence on groundwater will be and, therefore, successful campaigns like ‘Catch the Rain’ are very important. The importance of Jal Shakti Abhiyan this time is that it covers both the urban and rural areas. The monsoon is still a few weeks away and we have to prepare to save water from now on. Our preparedness should not be lacking.All the work related to cleaning of tanks, ponds, wells and de-silting of drains should be completed before the onset of monsoon. We have to increase the capacity to preserve water and remove hurdles in the way of rain water flowing and it does not require any major engineering. There is no need for any top engineer to make a design on paper. The people of the villagesare aware and they will manage it very easily. What is required that there should be somebody who can supervise it and technology should be utilized to the maximum. I would like that every penny of MGNREGA should be utilized for this work till rains arrive.
Whatever preparations are to be made regarding water and MGNREGA money should not be spent on anything else and, therefore, I would like the cooperation of all the citizens to make this campaign a success. The role of all the sarpanches, DMs, DCs and other colleagues is equally important. I am told that special meetings of Gram Sabhas have also been organized today and the water pledge is also being administered. This water pledge should also become the resolution of the people, the nature of the people. When our tendency will change towards water, Nature will also support us.It is said of the army that the more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war. I think this rule also applies to water. If we work hard and make plans to save water ahead of rains then we can prevent losses amounting to the tune of billions of rupees during famine, which leads to a stoppage of all works, suffering to the common man and the migration of animals. As the mantra of sweating in peacetime is useful during the war, the same will be beneficial if we make more efforts to save lives before the rains.
Brothers and sisters,
There have been debates in our country for decades regarding the management of river water along with rain water conservation. We find that though dams have been built at many places, but de-silting is not done. If we de-silt the dams under the guidance of engineers, it will store the water more and the water will be available for a longer period. Similarly, we need to de-silt our rivers and canals. It is our combined responsibility to work expeditiously in this direction to save the country from the water crisis. The Ken-Betwa Link project is also part of this vision. I congratulate both the Chief Ministers, governments and people of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Today, these two leaders and governments have done such a great job that it will be written in the golden pages for the bright future of the waters of India.It is not a trivial piece of work, it is not just a paper that they have signed; they have given a new lifeline to Bundelkhand today and change its destiny. Therefore, these two chief ministers, governments and people of the two states deserve appreciation. But it is also the responsibility of my Bundelkhand brothers to put in their maximum efforts so that the Ken-Betwa work is completed before our lifetime and water flows in the region. Let’s join hands together to make our fields lush green. This project will also generate electricity in the districts where lakhs of people and farmers will get water. That is thirst will be quenched and progress will also be ensued.
Brothers and sisters,
Any goal can be achieved if our efforts are as sincere as Bhagirath. Today, the same efforts are visible in the Jal Jeevan Mission. Just a year-and-a-half ago, only 3.5 crore out of 19 crore rural families in our country got piped drinking water. I am happy that about 4 crore new families have got piped drinking water connections in such a short time after the launch of the Jal Jeevan Mission. The most important feature of this mission is thatpublic participation and local governance model are at the core of it. I say this from my experience that the mission will get a boost if more and more sisters come forward and take maximum responsibility because nobody can understand the value of water as much as our mothers and sisters. Mothers and sisters realize the problem when there is scarcity of water in homes. If we hand over the management of water to our mothers and sisters, they will bring about a change that we may not even think of.All of the Panchayati Raj colleagues are aware that this entire program is being handled by the villages. As I said now, take it forward under the leadership of our women, and you will see the results. I am happy that tap water is being ensured in schools, Anganwadis, ashrams, health and wellness centres, and community centres on priority basis.
There is another aspect of Jal Jeevan Mission which is rarely discussed. We have a very huge problem of arsenic and other pollutants in water. Due to contaminated water, a lot of diseases destroy the lives of the people and bone-related diseases make it difficult to live. If we are able to prevent these diseases, we will be able to save many lives. Water testing is equally important for this. But if we can save the rain water in a large quantity, many such problems can be taken care of. For the first time since independence, a government is working so seriously with regard to water testing. And I am also happy that the sisters and daughters living in our villages are being included in this water testing campaign. More than 4.5 lakh women have been trained for water testing during the corona period. At least five women in every village are being trained to test water. The more the role of our sisters and daughters is encouraged in water governance, the betterresults are a certainty.
I am confident that we will save the waters of the countrywith public participation and their strength and we will make the country bright once again. I once again urge all the youth of the country, the mothers and sisters, the children, the local bodies, the social institutions, the government departments, all the state governments to take a resolution to make the Jal Shakti Abhiyan a success. We have to make similar arrangements for water conservation in the next 100 days as we do when some guests have to come or the arrival of a wedding party in village. Similar arrangements have to be made in the villages ahead of rains. A kind of enthusiasm should be there. You will see not a drop will be wasted. Secondly, when there is abundance of water, we develop the habit of its misuse. This is my request to you that water preservation is as much necessary as its use. We should never forget this.
I once again congratulate everybody for this awareness campaign on the occasion of the World Water Day, particularly the sarpanches and the youth who have made it a mission to bring water to the earth. There are so many people involved in the mission in every nook and corner of the country and I had the opportunity to talk to five people. Let’s make efforts to preserve water and we become successful so that our planet, life and economy are rejuvenated and we move forward as an energized nation. With this expectation, thank you all very much.