New Delhi: Providing safe drinking water to all parts of the country remains a priority, said Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharam, as she announced the Jal Jeevan Mission to provide potable water to every rural household by 2024.
In her maiden budget speech in the Parliament, Sitharaman highlighted that the government has formed a new Ministry to address all water issues- Jal Shakti, which will look at the management of water resources and drinking water supply in a holistic manner.
The Ministry formed by integrated other existing Ministries – Water Resources and Ministry of Drinking water and sanitation would work with state governments to ensure Har Ghar Jal’ to all rural households by 2024, said Sitharaman, here on Friday.
“By 2024, every rural household will have potable water," she said, reiterating government's commitment to ensure piped water supply to all households.
Expressing concerns over the prevailing water situation in the country, Sitharaman said the government has identified as many as 1, 592 blocks in 256 districts which are facing acute water crisis and have reported over-exploitation of groundwater.
“Jal Shakti Ministry will work with state governments to ensure sustainable water management, including creation of local groundwater storage and recharge and use of waste treated water in agricultural activities in all these blocks," she said, referring to the latest government’s water conservation scheme.
Under the scheme the government will focus on rainwater harvesting and water conservation in 256 districts in the first phase and carry out other initiatives including renovation of traditional water bodies and tanks, reuse of water and recharge structures, watershed development and intensive afforestation. The second phase will begin on October 1 till November 30.
India is grappling with one of the most severe water crisis in decades, with several states reeling under drought like conditions. The delay in the onset of southwest monsoon which provides over 75% of the annual rainfall to the country has worsened the situation.
As on Friday, the country faces an overall deficit of 27% in rains. The water storage in major reservoirs across states also remains lesser than that of corresponding period last year. As per the latest report by Central Water Commission (CWC), the total live storage available for 92 major reservoirs monitored by it stands at 17% of the total live storage capacity.
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