Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Minister of Jal Shakti, Government of India today said that India is in a strong position to achieve 100% coverage of clean tap water in the country by the end of 2024. Shri Shekhawat was speaking at a session titled, ‘Water and Sustainable Development’ at the India Pavilion to mark the World Water Day celebrations as part of the ‘Water Week’.
Shri Shekhawat said, “Before 2019, the disparity between urban and rural households was high. The total coverage of drinking water in rural India was only 16.5 percent, amounting to about 3 million houses that had access to tap water in their homes. The Hon’ble PM issued a guideline on 25th December 2019, also known as the Good Governance Day that aimed to provide clean tap water access to 160 million households by the end of 2024. We have successfully provided connections to 60 million households so far, despite the challenges posed by the pandemic. By the end of 2024, we aim to achieve 100% coverage of clean tap water in the country.”
Shri Shekhawat also stressed upon the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi’s 5 Ps principle in resolving challenges that include Political Will, Public Spending, Partnership, People’s Participation and Persuasion. “Water and sanitation are not the issues which are to be dealt in silos. Time has come, when everybody will have to come together and share their expertise, knowledge and experiences to resolve the issue,” added the Minister. India is uniquely placed to provide workable solutions to many similarly placed countries.
The Minister also underlined the vision of present government that both demand and supply side of water needs to be dealt holistically and from same policy platform in order to bring about desired synergies between pragmatic policies and their effective implementation at ground level. In this regard, the formation of the Ministry of Jal Shakti in 2019 was a visionary step taken by Hon’ble PM Shri Narendra Modi. He also emphasized on the importance of people’s participation in bringing about a behavioral change to conserve water as well as ensure sanitization across all urban and rural areas.
“We are running the world’s largest dam rehabilitation and improvement program with the assistance of World Bank and we have large experience in this area,” added Shri Shekhawat.
Shri Sanjay Awasthi, Joint Secretary, Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India highlighted India’s challenges related to topographical variations with regions receiving highest rainfall in the world to the driest regions. “We are now in a position to inform the world that we have unique capabilities in terms of managing inter-states rivers, dams and reservoirs from designing and construction to management later on and to even safety issues, handling groundwater issues, forecasting flood,” added Shri Awasthi.
Shri Aman Puri, Consul General of India in Dubai and Deputy Commissioner General for India at Expo 2020 Dubai said, “India, which is home to 18% of the world’s population has a tremendous responsibility on its shoulders. Whether it is access to safe drinking water for each citizen or ensuring that all our water resources remain sustainable for future generations, we want to ensure that we work with all stakeholders in addressing these complex challenges. India will be one of the key growth engines and we wish to work with all our partners across the world.”
During the course of visit to Malaysian Pavilion, there was an extensive exchange of views led by Dato’ Mansor bin Haji Othman, Deputy Minister- Ministry of Environment and Water Malaysia. The other delegates present from Malaysia were Dato’ Seri Ir. Dr. Zaini bin Ujang (Secretary General- Ministry of Environment and Water Malaysia), Dr. Ching Thoo a/l Kim (Deputy Secretary General- Ministry of Environment and Water Malaysia), Dato’ Ir. Dr. Md. Nasir bin Md. Noh (Director General- Department of Irrigation and Drainage, JPS), Dato’ Ir. Nor Hisham bin Mohd Ghazali (Director General-National Water Research Institute of Malaysia, NAHRIM), Datuk Ahmad Faizal Abdul Rahman (CEO- National Water Service Commission, SPAN) and Ms. Michelle Lau (Malaysia Pavilion Director). In the session, several areas of mutual collaboration like management of dams and reservoirs, sustainable management of Ground Water Resources and workable template for managing Trans-boundary Rivers was discussed.
Shri Shekhar Kapur, Award-winning Filmmaker, Actor and Storyteller in his special address highlighted the importance of water and urged people to manage water as a personal issue.
The session also saw participation from sector experts from various countries like the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Slovenia, Argentina, Australia, Israel, Costa Rica, Brazil etc.
The Water Week will conclude on March 25th, 2022.