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There has been a decline in availability of water due to an increase in human and cattle population, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said on Friday, emphasising on the need to save water.

In his keynote address at the curtain raiser event of TERI's World Sustainable Development Summit (WSDS) 2022 and discussion on sustainable, equitable and resilient water use, Javadekar said new technologies must be used to ensure zero wastage of water.

The event comes ahead of the World Environment Day, which is celebrated on June 5.

"India has only four per cent water share of the world's fresh rain water resources. So, there is a basic necessity to save, reuse and repurpose. When India became independent, the availability of water was 5,000 litres per capita now it has become 1,100 litres. There is a basic decline in availability of water due to human and cattle population growth," he said.

India has 18 per cent of the world's human population and 18 per cent of the cattle population of the world.

The minister said efforts should be made in the field of agriculture to save water as it was consuming nearly 85 per cent of the water.

"Agriculture is consuming nearly 85 per cent of the water. So, the first saving should come from agriculture. There are new technologies like sprinkling, drip irrigation and other methods to save water which should be used," he said.

Javadekar also highlighted the issue of sinking of rivers and lauded the Ken-Betwa River linking project, saying such projects are environmentally important.

"The best news this year has been the Ken-Betwa agreement between Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh because if the deficit rivers get water from overflowing rivers, that really helps. In Gujarat also, two local rivers are exchanging their waters. Such projects are environmentally important," he said.

Acknowledging that several rivers were sinking, the minister said there was a need to replenish water sources in forests where major rivers originated.

"Rivers are also sinking. In forest areas the major rivers originate. We have decided to augment water and fodder in jungles so that animals also don't come out of the habitat," he said.

The minister also spoke about light detection and ranging (LiDAR) technology being used for conducting surveys of forests in all states.

"This year we have used a new technology called the LiDAR survey (light detection and ranging), which will be for all states. We have selected one forest campus in each state and all are being surveyed through this technology. After this our detailed project reports (DPRs) will be ready and after rains, work on watershed development at correct places will start in all states," he said.

Javadekar also said that the Ministry of Environment has provided funds through the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) for this survey and 40,000 crore has already been given for compensatory afforestation programme.

"For 15 years, this money was not getting used because of the Supreme Court judgement. We changed the basis of the Supreme Court decision and distributed funds to all states. I am warning the states repeatedly that these funds be used for the purpose they are meant for," the minister said. PTI AG SNE

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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