PM launches 'Catch the Rain' campaign, says MGNREGA funds be spent for rain water conservation

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New Delhi, Mar 22 (PTI) Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday launched 'Jal Shakti Abhiyan: Catch the Rain' campaign for conserving water and stressed that every penny of MGNREGA funds be spent on rain water conservation till the monsoon arrives.

Addressing an event at the virtual launch of the campaign on the World Water Day, Modi said it is a matter of concern that majority of rain water in India gets wasted. He said the more the rain water is conserved, the less will be the dependence on groundwater.

He also called for creating more awareness about water conservation and increased public participation in such efforts.

The prime minister also emphasised on the need for involving women in water conservation efforts, saying they understand the value of water better.

The success of campaigns like 'Catch the Rain' is very important, he said, noting that both urban and rural areas have been included in the Jal Shakti Abhiyan.

'There is still some time for the monsoon to arrive and we have to make efforts to conserve water. We should not be lacking behind in our preparedness,' he said.

Before the monsoon, there should be cleaning and desilting of tanks, lakes, and wells and their capacity to conserve water must be increased. Any hindrances in the flow of rainwater should be addressed.

'For all these things, we have to put in all our efforts,' he said.

Modi said India's self-sufficiency is dependent on its water resources and water connectivity, and its fast-paced development is not possible without effective water conservation.

'I would like that every penny of MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) funds be spent on rain water conservation till the monsoon arrives,' he said.

To save the country from a water crisis, it is necessary to work rapidly in this direction and the coming 100 days must be devoted to preparations for rainwater conservation in each village, Modi said.

Urging women to take control of Jal Jeevan missions, he said “positive results” will be achieved under their leadership.

'No one understands the value of water better than women, if water conservation is handed over to women, they will ensure unimaginable positive results,' he said.

Like an army which sweats more during peace and loses lesser blood in war, we can stave off water crisis by conserving it during rains, Modi said.

'Just like sweating in peace time is key for an army to win wars, water conservation during rains is key to saving lives,' he said.

The prime minister noted that the challenge of water crisis is increasing as India continues to grow and develop. He said it is the responsibility of the present generation of the country to fulfill its responsibility for the generations to come.

He also urged the people to use water judiciously and step up water conservation efforts in the days leading up to the monsoon.

Emphasising the importance of sarpanches and district magistrates/district collectors, he said the 'Jal Shapath' which is being organised all over the country should become everybody's pledge and second nature. He said when people's nature change with respect to water, nature will also support people.

The 'Catch the Rain' campaign will be implemented across the country from March 22 to November 30 -- the pre-monsoon and monsoon period in the country.

The campaign aims to take water conservation at grass-root level through people's participation. It is intended to nudge all stakeholders to create rainwater harvesting structures suitable to the climatic conditions and subsoil strata, to ensure proper storage of rainwater.

Modi asserted that the government has made water governance a priority in its policies and decisions. He said in the last six years, many steps have been taken in this direction.

Modi also highlighted the initiatives like the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojna, water campaign to every farm - Har Khet ko Paani, 'Per Drop More Crop' campaign and NamamiGange Mission, Jal Jeevan Mission or Atal Bhujal Yojana undertaken by his government.

Work is being undertaken rapidly on all these schemes, he said.

Referring to the Jal Jeevan Mission, he said just 1.5 years ago, 3.5 crore out of 19 crore rural families in the country, had piped drinking water connection.

After the launch of Jal Jeevan Mission, about 4 crore new families have piped drinking water connections in such a short time, he said.

Modi said for the first time after independence, a government is working seriously towards water testing and pointed out that “sisters and daughters” in rural India have been made stakeholders in this campaign.

He said during the coronavirus pandemic, about 4.5 lakh women were trained for water testing.

Every village is getting at least five trained women for water testing. Better results are a certainty with increased participation of women in water governance, the prime minister said.

During the virtual event, a memorandum of agreement was signed by the Union minister of jal shakti and the chief ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh to implement the Ken-Betwa Link Project, the first project of the national perspective plan for interlinking of rivers.

The prime minister also interacted with sarpanches and ward panches in Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat. PTI PR SKC RHL