Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated six mega development projects in Uttarakhand under the Namami Gange Mission and announced a campaign under Jal Jeevan Mission to ensure drinking water connection to schools and anganwadis (child care centres) in the country through video conferencing on Tuesday.
Modi also inaugurated the Ganga Avalokan Museum – the first of its kind – on the River Ganga at Haridwar. He released the book Rowing Down the Ganges and the new logo for the Jal Jeevan Mission. The Prime Minister also unveiled the Margadarshika for Gram Panchayats and Paani Samitis under Jal Jeevan Mission or Guidelines for the Village Panchayats and Water Committees on the occasion.
Speaking on the occasion, the prime minister said the Jal Jeevan Mission aimed at providing every rural household in the country with a piped-water connection. He said that the new logo of the mission shall continue to inspire the need to save every drop of water.
Referring to the Margadarshika, the prime minister said that guidelines enumerated there were equally important for gram panchayats, people living in rural areas as well as for the government machinery.
Prime Minister Modi highlighted the importance of keeping the River Ganga clean as it played a significant role in sustaining the lives of about 50 per cent of the country’s population from its origin in Uttarakhand till West Bengal.
Namami Gange Focuses on Comprehensive Upkeep
He termed the Namami Gange Mission as the largest integrated river conservation mission, which not only aimed at cleaning up the River Ganga but also focused on the comprehensive upkeep of the river. The prime minister said this new thinking and approach had made the River Ganga return back to life.
The prime minister said the government had moved forward with a four-pronged strategy to achieve its objective. Firstly, by laying a network of sewage treatment plants (STPs) to prevent the wastewater from flowing into the Ganges, secondly, building STPs by keeping in mind the demands for the next 10-15 years, thirdly, by making around hundred big towns and cities and 5,000 thousand villages along with the River Ganga open defecation free (ODF) and, finally, by making an all-out effort to stop the discharge of effluents into the tributaries of the River Ganga.
The prime minister highlighted the fact that under Namami Gange, projects worth more than Rs 300 billion were either underway or had been completed. He pointed out that due to these projects the sewage treatment capacity of Uttarakhand had increased by up to four times in the last six years.
The prime minister listed the efforts taken to close more than 130 drains in Uttarakhand from flowing into the River Ganga. He referred especially to the Chandreshwar Nagar drain that had turned as an eyesore to visitors and rafters at Muni Ki Reti, in Rishikesh. He applauded the closing of the drain and the construction of a four-storied STP at the site instead.
The prime minister said that as it was experienced by the pilgrims at Prayagraj Kumbh, the visitors to Haridwar Kumbh would also experience a cleaner River Ganga at Uttarakhand. He referred to the beautification of the hundreds of ghats at the Ganges and the development of a modern riverfront at Haridwar.
The prime minister said the Ganga Avalokan Museum would be a special attraction to pilgrims and it would further enhance the understanding of the heritage associated with the river. He said that apart from cleaning up the Ganges, the Namami Gange project was also focussed on the development of the economy and environment of the entire Gangetic belt. He said the government had made comprehensive plans to promote organic farming and ayurvedic farming in the region.
The prime minister said that the project would also strengthen ‘Mission Dolphin’ that was announced on August 15 this year.
Ministry of Jal Shakti Formed to Build Synergies
He said that fragmentation of work on an important subject like water into various ministries and departments had led to a lack of clear guidelines and coordination. As a result, problems related to irrigation and drinking water continued to persist. He lamented that even after so many years of independence, piped drinking water had not reached more than 150 million households in the country.
Prime Minister Modi said the Ministry of Jal Shakti was formed to bring in synergy and give impetus to dealing with these challenges. He said the ministry was now engaged in the mission of ensuring access to piped drinking water to every household in the country.
Today, about 100,000 households are being provided piped water supply connections every day under the Jal Jeevan Mission. He said drinking water connections have been provided to 20 million families of the country in just one year.
He lauded the Government of Uttarakhand for providing drinking water connections to more than 50,000 families even during the COVID-19 period in the last four to five months.
The prime minister said that unlike the previous programmes, Jal Jeevan Mission adopted a bottom to top approach, where the users and paani samitis (water committees) in the villages envision the whole project from its implementation to maintenance and operation. He said the mission has also ensured that at least 50 per cent of the members of the water committee would be women. He said the Mardarshika Guidelines released today would guide the members of the paani samitis and gram panchayats in taking the right decisions.
He said a special 100-day campaign would be launched on October 2 under the Jal Jeevan Mission to ensure drinking water connection to every school and anganwadi in the country.