Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for technological solutions to conserve water and a switch to more efficient agriculture in his Sunday radio address, ‘Mann Ki Baat’.
In a talk devoted to the environment, drought and the economy, Modi also praised Sarbananda Sonowal, the chief minister-elect of Assam, saying he had performed his duty as sports minister at the Centre well even with an election on his shoulders.
“I want to appreciate Sarbanand Sonowal. In the poll season, he went to National Institute of Sports, Patiala for a surprise visit.”
Modi said he broke away from the usual practice of holding a single drought-management meeting and held discussions with chief ministers of 11 drought-hit states individually. Modi said his focus, arising out of a dire situation of drought, had been on long-term solutions and technology.
“With regard to environment, to deal with the drought, for cattle, affected people…with discussions from states, regardless of which party is in power, the takeaway for me was how to deal with this problem through a permanent solution,” Modi said. He said he was drafting in the Niti Aayog, the government’s think tank, on the issue.
The PM’s thoughts on the drought came a week after the Supreme Court came down heavily on his government for its poor drought management, saying the Centre could not “wash its hands of” the issue. It said the Centre could not sidestep its responsibility by saying that declaration of drought fell in the domain of the states.
"Let us pledge to conserve every drop of water. Even if a single drop of water is wasted, it should hurt us," Modi said in the 20th edition of his radio address.
The PM said Indian agriculture must switch to water-efficient technologies such as “drip irrigation” and “check dams”. He said Gujarat, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra had switched to drip irrigation in a big way.
The PM cited examples of Gujarat, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to say that “many states have undertaken wonderful efforts to mitigate the drought”. Modi said this year, the UN had decided the theme of the World Environment Day on June 5 to be "Zero Tolerance for Illegal Wildlife Trade".
Modi also reiterated his government’s efforts towards online banking. “The world is moving towards a cashless society and more technology is being used. Through the JAM trinity (Jan Dhan, Aadhaar and Mobile) we can move towards a cashless society.” Modi also congratulated students on their success in board examinations, and said he was "happy to see girl students shine".