Ministry of Jal Shakti is a ministry under Government of India which was formed in May 2019. This was formed by merging of two ministries; Ministry of Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation and Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation.
The formation of this ministry reflects India’s seriousness towards the mounting water challenges the country has been facing over the past few decades.
The ministry was incorporated with an aim to clean the river Ganges. They would also encompass any international or national disputes between inter-state water bodies and the rivers which are shared by India along with other neighboring countries. A special project “Namami Gange” project has been launched to clean Ganga and its tributaries to provide safe drinking water to people of the country. The ministry has also launched its special campaigns on social so that citizens of the country become aware of water conservation.
National Water Mission
The National Water Mission was launched under the National Action Plan for Climate Change (NAPCC) to tackle the threats of global warming. The National Water Mission emphasizes on conservation of water and minimizing the wastage. It also ensures the equitable distribution of water across and within the states through the development and management of integrated water resources. The major goals of the National Water Mission are as follows:
- To reduce and study the impact of climate change on water resources and to provide comprehensive water database in the public domain.
- Promotion of citizen and state actions for water conservation, augmentation and preservation.
- To focus on the vulnerable areas including over-exploited areas and also to increase the water use efficiency by 20%.
- To promote the management of basin level integrated water resources.
Water Scarcity in India
India has 18% of the world’s population which has access to only 4% of the usable water sources. Poor management of resources and lack of government attention has contributed as a major factor for water scarcity in India. As per NITI Aayog report released in June 2019, India is facing the worst-ever water crisis in history. Approximately 600 million people or roughly around 45 % of the population in India is facing high to severe water stress. As per the report, 21 Indian cities will run out of their main source of water i.e. groundwater by 2020. The report goes on to say that nearly 40 % of the population will have absolutely no access to drinking water by 2030 and 6 % of India’s GDP will be lost by 2050 due to the water crisis.
What is Jal Shakti Abhiyan?
Soon after the announcement of Ministry of Jal Shakti, Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat announced the commencement of the Jal Shakti Abhiyan on 1st July 2019. This was a campaign for water conservation and water security which continued from 1st July 2019 to 15th September 2019. This campaign mainly focused on the water-stressed districts.
As per Shri Parameswaran Iyer, Secretary, Department of Drinking Water and Sanitation (DDWS), the Jal Shakti Abhiyan is a collaborative campaign of various Ministries under the Government of India and the State Governments being coordinated by the DDWS. The Jal Shakti Abhiyan mainly focuses upon conservation of water in 1592 water-stressed blocks in 256 districts. It also ensures five important water conservation interventions:
- Rainwater harvesting
- Renovation of traditional and other water bodies/tanks
- Reuse bore well recharge structures
- Watershed development
- Intensive afforestation.
The Jal Shakti Abhiyan was also established to develop various Water Conservation Plans for Blocks and Districts, to promote efficient water use for irrigation and selection of better crops through Krishi Vigyan Kendras
Namami Gange Programme
- Namami Gange Programme is an Integrated Conservation Mission, approved as a ‘Flagship Programme’ by the Union Government in June 2014 to accomplish the twin objectives of effective abatement of pollution and conservation and rejuvenation of National River Ganga.
- It is being operated under the Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Ministry of Jal Shakti.
- The program is being implemented by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), and its state counterpart organizations i.e., State Program Management Groups (SPMGs).
- NMCG is the implementation wing of National Ganga Council (set in 2016; which replaced the National Ganga River Basin Authority (NRGBA).
- It has a Rs. 20,000-crore, centrally-funded, non-lapsable corpus and consists of nearly 288 projects.
- The main pillars of the programme are:
- Sewerage Treatment Infrastructure & Industrial Effluent Monitoring,
- River-Front Development & River-Surface Cleaning,
- Bio-Diversity & Afforestation,
- Public Awareness
Other Initiatives Taken
- Ganga Action Plan: It was the first River Action Plan that was taken up by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in 1985, to improve the water quality by the interception, diversion, and treatment of domestic sewage.
- The National River Conservation Plan is an extension to the Ganga Action Plan. It aims at cleaning the Ganga river under Ganga Action Plan phase-2.
- National River Ganga Basin Authority (NRGBA): It was formed by the Government of India in the year 2009 under Section-3 of the Environment Protection Act, 1986.
- It declared the Ganga as the ‘National River’ of India.
- Clean Ganga Fund: In 2014, it was formed for cleaning up of the Ganga, setting up of waste treatment plants, and conservation of biotic diversity of the river.
- Bhuvan-Ganga Web App: It ensures involvement of the public in monitoring of pollution entering into the river Ganga.
- Ban on Waste Disposal: In 2017, the National Green Tribunal banned the disposal of any waste in the Ganga.
- The government’s Namami Gange Programme has revitalised India’s efforts in rejuvenating the Ganga.
- In this line, the first World Bank loan has helped build critical sewage infrastructure in 20 pollution hotspots along the river and the current funding would help in cleaning of the tributaries of Ganga.
- It will further aid the government to strengthen the institutions needed to manage a river basin as large as the Ganga Basin.
- In order to successfully implement the plan there is a need for a strategic blueprint that includes the strict monitoring, mass awareness campaigns, use of digital media and conservation of biodiversity in Ganga.