Underlining the importance of people’s participation in water conservation, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said attempts by governments’ alone cannot be successful. Addressing the first All India Annual State Ministers’ Conference on Water, Modi said, “When the public is associated with a campaign, they also get to know the seriousness of the work. Due to this, a sense of ownership also comes in the public towards any scheme or campaign”.
The theme of the conference is ‘Water Vision @ 2047’ and the objective of the forum is to bring together key policymakers for discussions on ways to harness water resources for sustainable development and human development. The Prime Minister pointed out that in our constitutional system, the subject of water comes under the control of the states and it is the states’ efforts for water conservation that will go a long way in achieving the collective goals of the country.
“Water Vision @ 2047 is an important dimension of the journey of Amrit Kaal for the next 25 years”, the Prime Minister remarked. Water, he said, should be a subject of cooperation, collaboration and coordination among states and asked them to plan in advance in view of the fast pace of urbanisation.
Reiterating his vision of ‘whole of government’ and ‘whole of country’ the Prime Minister emphasised that all governments should work like a system wherein there should be constant interaction and dialogue between different ministries of state governments, such as the Ministry of Water, Ministry of Irrigation, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Rural and Urban Development and disaster management. He further added that planning will get help if these departments have information and data related to each other.
Noting that success does not come from the efforts of the government alone, the Prime Minister drew attention to the role of public and social organisations and civil societies and asked for their maximum participation in the campaigns related to water conservation. Modi said that promoting public participation does not reduce the accountability of the government and it does not mean putting all the responsibility on the people. He further added that the biggest advantage of public participation is the awareness that is created among the public about the efforts being put into the campaign and the money being spent.
“When the public is associated with a campaign, they also get to know the seriousness of the work. Due to this, a sense of ownership also comes in the public towards any scheme or campaign”, he added. “When people joined the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, a consciousness was awakened in the public as well.”
Crediting the people of India for their efforts, the Prime Minister mentioned that the government took up many initiatives, be it collecting resources to remove filth, building various water treatment plants or constructing toilets, but the success of this campaign was ensured when the public decided that there should be no dirt at all. The Prime Minister emphasised the need to inculcate this idea of public participation towards water conservation and highlighted the impact that awareness can create.
“We can organise ‘Water Awareness Festivals’ or an event related to water awareness can be added to the fairs held at the local level,” he said while stressing on the need to make the younger generations aware of this subject through innovative ways from curriculum to activities in schools. The Prime Minister informed that the country is constructing 75 Amrit Sarovar in every district wherein 25 thousand Amrit Sarovars have already been built so far. He emphasised the need to connect technology, industry, and startups to identify problems and find solutions and mentioned technologies like geo-sensing and geo-mapping that can be of great help. He also stressed the need to come up with government policies and bureaucratic procedures to tackle water-related issues at the policy levels.
Highlighting the success of ‘Jal Jeevan Mission’ as a major development parameter for a state to provide water to every household, the Prime Minister remarked that many states have done a good job while many states are moving forward in this direction. He recommended that once this system is in place we should ensure its maintenance in the same way in the future. He proposed that Gram Panchayats should lead the Jal Jeevan Mission, and after the work is completed, they should also certify that sufficient and clean water has been made available. “Every Gram Panchayat can also submit a monthly or quarterly report online stating the number of houses that are getting tap water in the village.” He also added that a system of periodic water testing should also be developed to ensure the quality of water.