Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday urged farmers to opt for less water intensive crops and irrigation methods that will help conserve water, as he launched the Atal Jal Yojana, aimed at improving groundwater level in seven states.
Speaking at the launch of the scheme, he said by forming the Jal Shakti Ministry, his government has tried to free the subject of water from a compartmentalised approach to a more comprehensive and holistic one, which was missing in previous governments while dealing with the subject.
PM Modi said the Atal Jal Yojana will help improve groundwater level in 78 districts, more than 8,300 villages in the states of Maharashtra, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Karnataka.
Under the scheme, out of the total outlay of Rs 6000 crore to be implemented over 5 years (2020-21 to 2024-25), 50 per cent shall be in the form of World Bank loan, and be repaid by the Centre.
The remaining 50 per cent shall be through central assistance from regular budgetary support. The entire World Bank’s loan component and central assistance shall be passed on to the states as grants.
PM Modi said agriculture in the country is largely based on irrigation carried out through the use of groundwater and using old-age techniques of irrigation also leads to wastage of water.
Crops like sugarcane, PM Modi said, need a lot of water and places where such crops are grown have noticed a depletion of groundwater table.
“To improve this, we need to make farmers aware of conservation of rain water and taking alternative crops for cultivation and move towards micro-irrigation,” he said. “It is necessary to explain the farmers in his own language,” he said.
He said to prepare ‘New India’ to deal with any kind of water crisis.
PM Modi also urged every village to prepare a water action plan, water fund and make use of the funds through different related state and central schemes.
He said villages with low groundwater level should prepare water budget and farmers should be encouraged to grow crops accordingly.
He said that on the one hand, Jal Jeevan Mission will work towards delivering piped water supply to every house, and on the other, Atal Jal Yojana will pay special attention to those areas where groundwater is very low.
To incentivise village panchayats to perform better in water management, Modi said a provision has been made in the Atal Jal Yojana in which better performing village panchayats will be given more allocation.
He said in 70 years, only 3 crore out of 18 crore rural households have access to piped water supply.
“Now our government has set the target to deliver clean drinking water to 15 crore homes in the next five years through pipes,” he said referring to the ambitious Jal Jeevan Mission.
One of the purposes of the Jal Jeevan Mission is to ensure that women need have to have to walk long distances to fetch water. Space technology, artificial intelligence will also be used to monitor the scheme, he said.
The Prime Minister said households should use water judiciously and wherever possible, use recycled water.
He also urged start-ups to come up with tech to ensure minimal use of water for various needs.
He also emphasised that water-related schemes should be made according to the situation at every village level.
This has been taken care while making the guidelines of the Jal Jeevan Mission, he added.
PM Modi also said both Union and state governments will spend Rs 3.5 lakh crore on water-related schemes in the next five years.
He also urged people of every village to make a water action plan and create a water fund.
The Prime Minister also appealed to NRIs to provide whatever assistance in water-related issues in their villages.