Expressing concern over drought in various parts of the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday called for a mass water conservation movement in his monthly radio programme ‘Mann Ki Baat’, while pinning hopes on the monsoon. He also spoke about efforts to clean Ganga and Yamuna rivers, and hoped these would bear results.
During his 30-minute broadcast, Modi said concern over drought is natural as prolonged drought leads to a drop in water table in reservoirs. “To fight the drought and water scarcity, the governments will do their work. But I have seen people also make their own efforts. In several villages, an awareness has been seen with regard to the value of water and in such places, there is sensitivity and a will to do something to conserve,” he said.
Referring to weather forecasts that predict that the country will receive 106 to 110 percent rainfall during this monsoon, the Prime Minister said such good news always brings peace. “But this news brings new awareness also… While the news about good rainfall brings comfort, it also provides an opportunity and a challenge. Can we run a movement from village to village to preserve water?… To whatever extent possible, we must save water.”
“The rainwater should be preserved. The water of a village should remain in the village. If we make a resolve to do this, it is possible through a mass campaign. So even though we have a water crisis now, we have one and a half month to prepare (before the onset of monsoon),” he said.
Stressing on water conservation, Modi spoke of how tanks have been built beneath houses that are as old as 200 years in Mahatma Gandhi’s birthplace Porbandar. He cited examples such as changing of the crop pattern in view of scarce water and adoption of sprinklers, drip irrigation, water harvesting and water recharging methods.
The PM said he has been told that in Devas district of Madhya Pradesh the groundwater level has risen through the efforts of the panchayat to build farm ponds, 27 of which have been constructed. Such methods improve the quality of water and pure water also becomes a reason for GDP growth, he added.
He lauded the railways for its promptness in ferrying water to drought-hit areas, but said villagers deserved greater praise for adopting various innovative methods to tackle drought. “The government’s good work sometimes comes to the fore but if we look around, we will see what kind of new methods people use to address the crisis,” Modi said.
On efforts to clean the Ganga, he said the process has been on for about 30 years during which several governments were in power, a number of programmes were undertaken and “huge costs” were incurred. “This task can never succeed without people’s participation and that is we all have to become an agent of change in this,” he Modi.
Modi also spoke on education, stressing that the focus should now shift from enrolment to providing quality education. He also exhorted media to highlight positive news.