Addressing water crisis 

On June 30 2019, in his Mann Ki Baat address, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi gave a clarion call to citizens to join hands for water conservation and create a jan andolan (mass movement) along the lines of the Swachh Bharat Mission to save water and secure the future. Inspired by the Prime Minister's impetus on jal sanchay (water conservation), the Jal Shakti Abhiyan was launched the next day. 

With an aim to provide drinking water to every household on priority and in a sustainable manner, the Jal Shakti Abhiyaan will work to improve water availability in 592 water-stressed blocks in 256 districts across the country.

The campaign will continue till November 30 in two phases - July 1 to September 15 (monsoon phase) and October 1 to November 30 (retreating monsoon phase). The first phase has already kickstarted with senior-level officers reaching 256 of the country's most water-stressed districts. These officials will undertake at least three trips of three days each through the entire campaign covering all the villages allocated to them.

The programme will focus on five aspects -- water conservation and rainwater harvesting, renovation of traditional and other water bodies, reuse of water and recharging of structures such as borewells, watershed development, and intensive afforestation. 

These efforts will be supplemented with special interventions including the development of Block and District Water Conservation Plans, promotion of efficient water use for irrigation and a better choice of crops through Krishi Vigyan Kendras. A large-scale communications campaign will also be run involving mass mobilisation of different target groups.

Climate Change is playing havoc around the globe and India is no exception. Signs of Climate Change are real, obvious and easy to spot. So are the consequences. The country has just gotten over an extreme heatwave season and is already reeling under a delayed and deficient southwest Monsoon. This has already strained our water resources.

A 2018 report by the NITI Aayog says that 21 of our major cities would run out of groundwater next year. Chennai's water reservoirs have run dry and it is staring at a major water crisis. Two-thirds of the country's reservoirs are running below normal water levels, as reported by the Central Water Commission. This water crisis will affect millions of people, especially women, children and economically marginalised sections.

India harvests and uses only 8 per cent of its rainfall. This is atrocious in a country where forty per cent of the population will have "no access to drinking water" by 2030, according to NITI Aayog. 

This crisis is not about the distant future any longer. This is about now. The Government is acting on it. It is time to do our bit. Let us pledge to bring about a behavioural change towards water conservation. Let us resolve to save every drop. Together, we can. As the Prime Minister said, "When people will join hands, water will be conserved." 

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