Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint
Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint

Uma Bharati seeks details on water storage in all states

Water resources minister Uma Bharati says Dalit-majority villages facing water scarcity will be chosen for implementing an integrated water security plan

New Delhi: The country’s apex water resources body has been asked to prepare a report on the status of water storage in all states, which will be the basis for states to complete water projects such as unbuilt dams, water resources minister Uma Bharati said on Sunday.

She said the ministry is also preparing a scheme to be named after Dalit icon B.R. Ambedkar under which a Dalit-majority village facing acute water scarcity will be chosen in every district of the country for implementing an integrated water security plan.

“My ministry has asked the Central Water Commission (CWC) to prepare a report about water storage in each state. We will then send this report to all state governments and they would be urged to finish all their work (on water-related projects) in time," said Bharti, who is minister for water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation.

The plan will involve speeding up all water projects, including dams, that are used for irrigation and drinking water supply.

Bharati, who was speaking on the sidelines of the launch of the Centre for Ganga River Basin Management and Studies, said that the central government is trying to tackle the drought in the country.

She said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said state governments should be extended whatever help they need in tackling drought. “We will do it," she added.

According to the non-profit organisation Swaraj Abhiyan, a total of 12 states are drought-hit—Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Telangana, Jharkhand, Bihar, Maharashtra, Haryana, Chhattisgarh and Odisha. All these states, with the exception of Haryana have officially declared a drought. Last year’s failed rains have also led to depleting water levels in reservoirs across the nation.

On a scheme that her ministry is thinking of launching after Ambedkar, Bharati said: “Baba Sahab Ambedkar was founder of the Central Water Commission. On 19th April we have called a meeting of CWC officials from across the country and we are proposing to name a scheme after him. We may announce it that day."

The union water resources ministry has been running a mass awareness programme on water conservation and management, called Jal Kranti Abhiyaan, under which two villages facing acute water scarcity in every district are chosen as “Jal Gram". In these two villages, the ministry will undertake an integrated water security plan, water conservation, water management and allied activities to ensure optimum and sustainable utilisation of water.

“Now under the new scheme we are thinking of choosing one more village—third Jal Gram—in every district whose majority of population is Dalit to implement this plan," Bharati said.

Ahead of the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh next year, all the political parties in India have been trying to stake claim to Ambedkar’s legacy.

On Ambedkar’s 125th birth anniversary on Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reiterated his government’s commitment to pursue social inclusion and said it was the need of the hour to take the message of development to every village to ensure long-term sustainable development.

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