With parts of India reporting water shortage, Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on Monday launched a conservation campaign focussing on 1,592 stressed blocks in 256 districts. The 'Jal Shakti Abhiyan' will be centred around on five aspects -- water conservation and rainwater harvesting, renovation of traditional and other water bodies, reuse of water and recharging of structures, watershed development, and intensive afforestation, said Drinking Water Sanitation Secretary Parmeswaran Iyer.
The campaign will run through citizen participation during the monsoon(Jul 1-September 15). An additional phase II will run from October 1 to November 30 for states receiving the northeast retreating monsoons, Iyer said.
Officers from the central government, led by additional secretaries and joint secretaries, have been assigned to these 256 districts, he said. The district administration will also nominate two members to join these teams.
"At a time when half the country is water stressed, time is apt to run this campaign so we don't become a country facing water scarcity," Shekhawat said.
The government aims at providing drinking water to every household on priority and in a sustainable manner, he said. The minister said the Jal Shakti Abhiyan should bring positive change in people for water conservation.
The conservation efforts will be supplemented by initiatives like developing block and district water conservation plans and 'krishi vigyan kendra melas' to promote efficient water use for irrigation and better crop choices.
A large-scale communications campaign has also been planned alongside the JSA involving mass mobilisation of different groups including school students, college students, swachhagrahis, Self Help Groups, Panchayati Raj Institution members, youth groups (NSS/NYKS/NCC), defence personnel, ex-servicemen and pensioners, among various others.
In urban areas, plans with time-bound targets will be developed for waste water reuse for industrial and agricultural purposes. Plans will be developed for at least one urban water body for groundwater recharge in the block or the city. Scientists and IITs will also be mobilised at the national level to support the teams, he said.
The government plans to run a water conservation, similar to the Swachch Bharat Abhiyaan with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday pitching for conservation of rainwater, saying there is a pressing need to make it a mass movement on the lines of the cleanliness drive.
Iyer said K Vijay Raghvan, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Prime Minister will be involved in special scientific interventions during the campaign.
In his first address in the second edition of monthly show 'Mann Ki Baat', the prime minister also said 'one-size-fits-all' approach is not required in conservation of water.