On the birth anniversary of former prime minister late Atal Bihari Vajpayee Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Atal Bhujal Scheme, which was approved by the Union cabinet on Tuesday, for better management of groundwater in seven states. The World Bank-funded scheme focuses on the need to use technology which helps prevent wastage of water in various spheres, including agriculture.
To mark the 95th birthday of Vajpayee, the Prime Minister also named Himachal Pradesh’s Rohtang passageway as Atal Tunnel.
Later in the day, PM Modi unveiled statue of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Lucknow and also laid the foundation stone for Atal Bihari Vajpayee Medical University in the city.
Asserting that only three crore out of 18 crore rural households have clean, piped water today, PM Modi urged start-up companies to come up with technology to ensure minimal use of water for various needs. He said the plan is to provide the remaining 15 crore rural households with piped water in the next five years.
He also urged farmers to switch over to crops that use less water and asked people not to waste the precious natural resource.
The Atal Jal scheme had been approved by the World Bank board in June 2018. It was waiting for the Union Cabinet’s approval for the last several months.
On Tuesday, sharing details, Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said the total budget of the scheme will be Rs 6,000 crore, of which Rs 3,000 crore will be contributed by the World Bank. He said the scheme will benefit seven states – Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
Implementation of the scheme is expected to benefit nearly 8,350 Gram Panchayats in 78 districts in these states, an official statement issued by the government said.
On renaming the Rohtang tunnel, a statement from the government said, “The historic decision to construct a strategic tunnel below the Rohtang Pass was taken on June 3, 2000, when late Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister. The foundation stone for the access road to the south portal of the tunnel was laid on May 26, 2002.”
It said that the tunnel is now nearing completion and is a step in the direction of providing all-weather connectivity to remote border areas of Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh, which otherwise remained cut-off from the rest of the country for about six months during winters. The 8.8-km tunnel is the world’s longest tunnel above an altitude of 3,000 metres, the statement said, adding that it will reduce the distance between Manali and Leh by 46 km and save crores of rupees in transport costs.
Earlier in the day, President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi along with other leaders paid tribute to Vajpayee. Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla were among the leaders who accompanied Modi to pay floral tributes to Vajpayee at ‘Sadaiv Atal’ memorial in New Delhi.
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