Replicate Swachh Bharat model to tackle water crisis, President tells MPs

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on June 20, 2019

President Ram Nath Kovind

Whle laying out the economic agenda for the newly sworn-in government, President Ram Nath Kovind, in his address to the joint session of Parliament on Thursday, urged the country to focus on water conservation and water management and give it the same importance as was accorded to the ‘Swachh Bharat’ campaign.

Addressing the first session of 17th Lok Sabha, he said that growing water crisis is one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century. “Over time, the traditional and effective practices of water conservation in our country are disappearing. Houses have come up over ponds and lakes, and the vanishing water sources have accentuated the water crisis for the poor. In view of the growing impact of climate change and global warming, water crisis is likely to aggravate further.”

“Today, the need of the hour is that the way the country has shown seriousness about ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan’, the same seriousness should be shown in ‘water conservation and management’,” he said.

His remarks have come at a time large parts of the country are reeling under a drought-like situation with less-than-expected pre-monsoon showers and delayed onset of monsoon . In fact, the situation in Chennai is reportedly so severe that many IT firms have asked employees to work from home. In Maharashtra, some school managements have chosen to shut down, so that they do not have to buy drinking water at higher cost.

The President said the creation of the new ‘Ministry of Jalshakti’ is a decisive step, which will lead to far-reaching benefits.

“My government is fully conscious of the crisis in the drought-hit areas and stands by every affected citizen. With the support of State governments and Sarpanches at the village level, it is being ensured that farmers are assisted and the scarcity of drinking water is tackled,” he said.

Farm productivity

He said that in order to enhance agriculture productivity, an investment of ₹25 lakh crore will be made in the coming years. Also, more than ₹12,000 crore has been disbursed to farmers in just three months under the ‘Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi’. An estimated expenditure of ₹90,000 crore is likely to be incurred annually on this scheme since every farmer has now been brought within its ambit.

On health, he said, the ‘Ayushman Bharat Yojana’ has covered 26 lakh poor patients so far and there is a plan to set up about 1.5 lakh ‘Health and Wellness Centres’ in all rural areas by 2022.

Talking about the state of the economy, he said the country is on its way to becoming the world’s fifth largest [economy] in terms of GDP. The objective is to make India a $5-trillion economy by 2024. Keeping in view Industry 4.0, a New Industrial Policy will be announced shortly.

On direct benefit transfer, he said during the last five years, ₹7.30 lakh crore have been transferred with savings of ₹1.41 lakh crore. The names of about eight crore ineligible beneficiaries have been deleted.

Published on June 20, 2019

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