PM talks about drought, pitches for mass campaign to save water
Sharing concern over drought conditions in various parts of the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday pitched for water conservation through a mass movement as he pinned hopes on the monsoon, which is predicted to bring up to 110 per cent of rains this season.
In his monthly radio programme ‘Mann Ki Baat’, he also talked about efforts to clean Ganga and Yamuna rivers, hoping that these will show results in some time.
Among other several issues, he delved on education, emphasising that the focus should now shift from enrolment to providing quality education.
During his 30-minute broadcast, Modi also expressed gratitude to one crore households for giving up LPG subsidy in response to his call and exhorted media to highlight positive news.
Talking about the drought situation in various parts of the country, he said concern over it is natural, particularly since prolonged drought leads to drop in water table in reservoirs. “To fight the drought and water scarcity, the governments will do their work. But I have seen that people also make 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.
He referred to the weather forecast, which has predicted that the country will receive 106 per cent to 110 per cent rains this monsoon and said such a 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,” he said.
“The rainwater should be preserved. The water of a village should remain in the village. If we 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),” Modi said.
While pitching for water conservation, the PM cited how in Mahatma Gandhi’s birthplace Porbandar, tanks have been built beneath the houses that are over 200 years old.
He also cited examples witnessed at various places, like changing of the crop pattern in view of scarce water and adoption of sprinklers, drip irrigation, water harvesting and water recharging methods.
Modi said he has been told that in Devas district of Madhya Pradesh, the Panchayat has been making efforts to build farm ponds, 27 of which have been constructed, resulting in rise in groundwater level. Such methods also lead to improvement in the quality of water and pure water becomes a reason for GDP growth as well, he said.
He hailed the Railways for the quickness it displayed in ferrying water to parched areas, but said that the villagers deserved more praise for adopting various innovative methods to fight 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.
Talking about efforts to clean the Ganga, he said the process has been underway for 30 years during which several governments came, a number of programmes were undertaken and “huge costs” incurred. “This task (of cleaning Ganga) can never succeed without people’s participation and that is we all have to become an agent of change in this,” he said.
“From the government’s side, several efforts are being made. Efforts are being made to take utmost cooperation of states located on the banks of Ganga. Efforts are also being made to connect social and voluntary organisations with this. Several steps have been taken for surface cleaning and stopping industrial pollution,” he said. To clean the large quantity of filth draining into Ganga every day, ‘trash skimmers’ have been put into service at places like Varanasi, Allahabad, Kanpur, Patna, the Prime Minister said.
Modi also referred to the ‘Gram Uday se Bharat Uday’ campaign run by the government from April 14, the birth anniversary of BR Ambedkar, till Sunday, the day celebrated as Panchayati Raj Day.
During these 10 days, he said umpteen campaigns were run to create awareness at the village level.
After a caller said there should be focus on quality of education as standards of students are not good, Modi said the concern was natural.
While talking about reposing faith in people, he mentioned the decision to do away with the requirement of interview for Class III and IV jobs in government.