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Will have to work seriously on water front: Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat

Will have to work seriously on water front: Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat
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Union Minister of Jal Shakti Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said the government has done a lot of work to make the country self-reliant on the water front.

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New Delhi: Union Minister of Jal Shakti Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said the government has done a lot of work to make the country self-reliant on the water front. "We did well on the Jal Swavlamban Yojana; the fall in groundwater across the country can be contained by this scheme. Unfortunately, it became a victim of politics and no further work could be done," he told IANS.

Shekhawat said even as the country continues its fight against coronavirus, "we will have to work very seriously about the water crisis."

In an exclusive interview with IANS, the Minister describes the seriousness of the water scarcity as well as solutions even as summer peaks in northern India.

On water availability, he said the government has got a survey of 132 water reservoirs done out of 5,000 such water bodies in the country. "I am happy to note that there is 56 per cent more water in the country's reservoirs as compared to last year. This rise in water level is the highest in the last one decade," he said.

He said the monsoon this year would be "good," so there should not be any water scarcity.

But he sought to remind the country that according to the World Resources Institute, 17 countries, including India, are set to face a water crisis in the near future. At the time of India's independence, the water need of a person on an average was 5,000 cubic metres, which has now come down to 1540 cubic metres, he said.

Shekhawat said the entire world is frightened by the spectre of climate change. "The period of rainy season is reduced. In just 45 days, we receive 90 per cent of the total rain. "So, we have to save water for 320 days in these 45 days. We have lost many water sources; the water bodies that we saw up to the brim, not so long ago, are today dry, many among them have become extinct. So, we need to change our attitude," said the minister. About Prime Minister Narendra Modi's planning for facilitating tap water supply, Shekhawat said by year 2024, each house will get tap water supply. "Seventy-three years after the country got independence, only 18 per cent of rural population receives tap water. All departments have been told to gear up for attaining the objective of reaching all houses for tap water by 2024. We are working on it despite the countrywide lockdown," said Shekhawat.

Has the coronavirus pandemic come in the way of the government mission? The Minister acknowledged that some work has been disrupted, but all the work can be given fresh impetus as soon as the lockdown ends. "We have already started work in that direction."

On the rising corona cases in Rajasthan, the minister said only Bhilwara in that state followed the guidelines. But the state administration did not show as much of promptness elsewhere in the state. That's why Rajasthan has shown a rising trend in the number of corona cases, he said.

Is the rise in number of corona cases something to do with Tablighi Jamaat followers? The minister made it clear that the infection spread out in Jodhpur, Jaipur and other areas of the state because of Jamaat members' behaviour. "This was not handled properly," Shekhawat said.

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