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Vice President calls for a nationwide campaign on water conservation

The Vice President of India, M Venkaiah Naidu today called for a nationwide campaign on water conservation and urged each citizen to become a water warrior in saving every drop of water. He said that it was time for everyone to realize the gravity of the situation and adopt water-saving measures at the earliest or else the world would face severe water shortage in the future.

Speaking virtually at the Mission Paani’s Jal Pratigya Diwas event organized by News 18 and Harpic, the Vice President stressed the need for taking collective action to avert a major water crisis. Naidu lauded the initiative by News 18-Harpic and called it a step in the right direction. He also complimented them for observing Jal Pratigya Diwas.

The Vice President said that only 0.5% was available for drinking out of the 3 % of freshwater that was available on earth. “India has more than 18% of the world’s population but has only 4% of the world’s renewable water resources,” he added.

Mentioning a UN report, the Vice President said around 2.2 billion people currently did not have access to safely managed drinking water, and around 4.2 billion, or 55% of the world’s population, were currently living without safely managed sanitation.

Drawing attention to the adverse effects of water scarcity on women and children, the Vice President said, “Women spend over 200 million hours every day to fetch water from distant places. Sharing the burden with their mothers, globally children spend 200 million hours each day for collecting water.”

Pointing to some of the factors leading to water crisis the Vice President said, “Rapid urbanization, growing population, expanding industrial and agricultural activities, indiscriminate drilling of borewells, climate change and careless use of water are some of the factors leading to water shortages.”

Expressing his concern over water scarcity in India, the Vice President said, “The water situation in India is also worrisome and we cannot remain complacent by adopting a ‘chaltha hai’ attitude.”

Naidu said that it would take many pledges to turn the tide.

He appealed to take a pledge to protect every pond, every river, every spring and every brook from plastic bags, detergents, human waste, garbage and industrial effluents. He urged the farmers to adopt economical irrigation methods, manufacturing units to commit to saving water and people to turn off taps after use. “Conscious efforts need to be made at the household level and by communities, farmers, institutions, industries, and local bodies to supplement the efforts of governments and non-governmental bodies in promoting water conservation,” he added.

He advised taking sustained measures to prevent pollution of water bodies, contamination of groundwater and proper treatment of domestic and industrial wastewater. “Micro-irrigation practices like drip and sprinkler systems have to be promoted in a big way for efficient use of water for agriculture,” he added.

Naidu called upon scientists and researchers to solve the challenge of water shortage by exploring innovative methods like desalination technology, collecting dew and wastewater recycling.

Recalling the recent call given by him for ‘Jal Andolan’ on water conservation, the Vice President lauded the government for taking several initiatives towards saving water. He said, “The Namami Gange Programme, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana, Atal Bhujal Yojana, Jal Jeevan Mission and Jal Shakti Abhiyan (JSA) are laudable initiatives.”

He also expressed his happiness over the creation of Jal Shakti Ministry, to give an impetus to integrated management of water resources, promote water conservation, recharge, re-use and ensure water security.

Appreciating the steps taken by some of the states towards solving the water crisis, the Vice President complimented Meghalaya for its water policy and Goa for achieving ‘Har Ghar Jal’ target. He suggested that every state must have a water policy. He also lauded Gurugram in Haryana for making rainwater harvesting a must for all and Kadapa in Andhra Pradesh for achieving a rainwater recharge of 3.57 TMC of water.

Complimenting News 18 for this initiative, Naidu hoped that every news channel, newspaper and media organization will take such initiatives so that the message reaches people easily. He also wanted the icons from cinema, sports, political, social or other fields to lend a helping hand to turn water conservation into a people’s movement.

The Vice President complimented music wizard, AR Rahman for his composition of Paani Anthem and noted lyricist Prasoon Joshi for penning down its lyrics.

Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Minister of Jal Shakti, Kishore Ajwani, Managing Editor, News 18, Anand Narasimhan, Executive Editor, News 18, officials, teachers and school children were among those who participated in the virtual event.

Following is the full text of the speech –

“It gives me immense pleasure to associate myself with this much-needed initiative called Mission Paani, undertaken by News 18 and Harpic and address all of you through a virtual platform.

My compliments to News 18 and Harpic for observing today as Jal Pratigya Diwas! I am happy to know that school students across the country will be administered a pledge on the need to conserve water.

I also convey my appreciation to music wizard, A R Rahman for composing the Paani Anthem and to Prasoon Joshi for penning its lyrics.

Dear sisters and brothers,

Recently, I had called for launching a ‘Jal Andolan’ for water conservation and I feel that this Mission Paani is a step in the right direction. I am glad that the Government of India has taken several measures, including the creation of Jal Shakti Ministry, to give an impetus to integrated management of water resources, promote water conservation, recharge, reuse and ensure water security. The Namami Gange Programme, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana, Atal Bhujal Yojana, Jal Jeevan Mission and Jal Shakti Abhiyan (JSA) are laudable initiatives.

Water is essential for sustenance of life on earth and the precious natural resource has to be conserved for sustainable development. There is a need for undertaking an aggressive nationwide campaign on the crucial importance of water conservation. It should be noted that only 3% of the water available on earth constitutes fresh water and only 0.5 % of that is available for drinking. India has more than 18% of the world’s population but has only 4% of the world’s renewable water resources.

According to the UN, around 2.2 billion people currently do not have access to safely managed drinking water, and 4.2 billion, or 55% of the world’s population, are without safely managed sanitation.

भारत में भी पानी की स्थिति चिन्ता जनक है। भविष्य में अब ” चलता है” वाले रवैए से काम नहीं चलेगा।

तेज़ी से हो रहे शहरीकरण, बढ़ते उद्योग और कृषि क्षेत्र, भूजल के लिए अंधाधुंध खोदे जा रहे बोरवेल, जलवायु परिवर्तन और पानी की लापरवाह बरबादी इन सबके के कारण पानी की भारी कमी पैदा हो रही है। अगर हम पानी का संरक्षण नहीं करेंगे, उसकी बरबादी को नहीं रोकने के लिए कड़े कदम नहीं उठायेंगे, तो हमारे सामने पानी की विकट समस्या पैदा होने ही वाली है।

Water crisis affects us in many adverse ways and women and children are the worst affected by it. According to a UN report, women spend over 200 million hours every day to fetch water from distant places. Sharing the burden with their mothers, globally children spend 200 million hours each day for collecting water.

The time that these children spend hauling water could have been spent at school learning new things. Apart from the water scarcity, children also become victims of unhygienic water and poor sanitation. Around 1,300 children are dying each day because of diarrhea.

It is projected that by 2025, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas. This kind of situation should not be allowed to continue. We will be jeopardizing our own future and that of the future generations unless every citizen becomes a water warrior in saving every drop of water.

Dear sisters and brothers,

We will all have to take collective action to avert a major crisis. We have to turn the tide. And we have to do it now.

We have to take many pledges.

Let each and every farmer pledge to adopt economical irrigation methods.

Let every manufacturing unit commit to save water and treat effluents.

Let each one of us pledge to turn off the tap after use as every drop is precious.

Let us pledge to enable everyone to use toilets so that open defecation does not contaminate groundwater.

Let us pledge to give up showers for bucket baths.

Let us pledge to protect every pond, every river, every spring and every brook from plastic bags, detergents, human waste, garbage and industrial effluents.

We have examples where the collective efforts of the community averted disasters.

Recently in Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh, local people came together to rejuvenate a 2.6 kilometre stretch of the river Kalyani. It was reported that the condition had become so bad that it was difficult to determine the actual course of the river.

Not too long ago in 2018, Cape Town in South Africa faced a major water crisis and was about to reach Day Zero, when the Cape Town’s municipal water supply would have been shut off. But in the moment of this major crisis, the citizens of Cape Town came together and reduced their water usage to bare minimum and successfully pushed the Day Zero indefinitely.

Many times people have done great wonders in the times of crises and I think the time has come for everyone to realize the gravity of the situation and adopt water-saving measures at the earliest. Otherwise, we will be facing severe water shortages in the future.

I am glad that many of our states have already started putting efforts in the right direction. Meghalaya has become the first state in the country to have a water policy. Goa has become the first state in the country to achieve Har Ghar Jal, by providing a tap water connection to every rural household.

The Municipal Corporation of Gurugram has made rainwater harvesting a must for all residential buildings, group housing societies, schools, hotels and industrial establishments. Kadapa in Andhra Pradesh has ensured rainwater recharge of a mind-boggling 3.57 TMC of water through various structures, including check dams and water storage tanks.

A recent report from NITI Aayog revealed that India’s demand for potable water will outstrip supply by 2030.

That’s why there is a need to intensify water conservation efforts through people’s movements. We have to find sustainable solutions before we run out of options.

Conscious efforts need to be made at the household level and by communities, farmers, institutions, industries, and local bodies to supplement the efforts of governments and non-governmental bodies in promoting water conservation.

Sustained measures have to be taken to prevent pollution of water bodies, contamination of groundwater and ensure proper treatment of domestic and industrial wastewater. Micro-irrigation practices like drip and sprinkler systems have to be promoted in a big way for efficient use of water for agriculture.

Both in urban and rural areas, digging of rainwater harvesting pits must be made mandatory for all types of buildings. Innovative methods like desalination technology, collecting dew, wastewater recycling must be explored by researchers and scientists to solve the challenge of water shortage.

बहनों, भाइयों और मित्रों,

हमारे जीवन में, हमारे संस्कारों में जल का महत्व तो स्वयं सिद्ध है।

मैं, विशेषकर युवा साथियों से आग्रह करता हूं कि देश और समाज के भविष्य के प्रति आप अपनी जिम्मेदारी को निभाएं। आपका सामाजिक व्यवहार जिम्मेदारीपूर्ण होना चाहिए। जल जैसे प्राकृतिक संसाधनों की बचत करें, उसे व्यर्थ न जाने दें, जल के स्रोतों का संरक्षण करें, जल के प्राकृतिक स्रोतों को प्रदूषण से बचाएं,  अपने आस पास के जल स्रोतों को स्वच्छ रखें,भूजल का संरक्षण करें,  अपने रोज़मर्रा के जीवन में जैविक वस्तुओं का उपयोग करें जो जल स्रोतों को प्रदूषित न करें।

इस जल यज्ञ में समाज के हर वर्ग के सहयोग की आवश्यकता होगी। मेरा आप सभी से आग्रह होगा कि आप जीवन में जल संरक्षण का संकल्प लें और अपने स्तर पर उसे सिद्ध करने का हर संभव प्रयास करें।

Let us all pledge here and now to become water warriors. Let’s take this initiative of Mission Paani forward and spread it everywhere. Let the entire country take this pledge today.  Because,Paani nahi toh zindgaani nahi!

Jai Hind!”

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