HT Environment Conclave: Govt to train village women to test water quality
The Union government will train five women from every village to test the quality of water at nominal charges as part of the ambitious Jal Jeevan mission, Jal Shakti minister Gajendra Shekhawat said on Friday, delivering the keynote address at the Hindustan Times Environment Conclave.
The government will put up inexpensive water-quality testing infrastructure accessible to every village to achieve the government’s mission to provide safe drinking water to all by 2024, the minister said.
“When we need to tests our blood, we all know where to go. But we have problems to test the water we drink. We will set up laboratories that will provide water quality tests for nominal charges,” the minister said.
The minister said the sustainable environment could not be based on the development of any one nation or segment of society. “It has to be based on the ecological integrity of every human being,” he said.
Piped drinking water to rural households is a critical component for achieving universal access to safe drinking water in a country where, in 2015, 163 million Indians lacked access to clean water, the highest for any country, according to the NGO WaterAid.
A key benchmark is that piped water supply at 55 LPCD under normal conditions should be available within household premises or at a distance of not more than 100 metres from the house.
The Jal Jeevan mission aims to provide piped drinking water to all rural households by 2024.
Shekhawat said the government used the Covid-19 lockdown period to ramp up infrastructure and logistics to be able to adhere to targets.
“When we started off, only 17% of households had piped drinking water. During the pandemic-lockdown period, we managed to provide piped drinking water to 3.30 crore households,” the minister said.
The minister said India aspires to be a global leader in achieving a sustainable environment. “The key thing I keep saying is that we should not lead our lives as consumers of natural resources but as custodians so that we can leave a better world than the one we were born into for the sake of our coming generation,” Shekhawat said.
The minister said the path before the government was full of dire challenges.
There are 52000 places where water is toxic due to excessive fluoride and arsenic etc. Water quality in many regions of Punjab and Rajasthan was hazardous due to overuse of pesticides, he said.
“That’s when our PM Narendra Modi decided to reach safe water to every household.”
Highlighting the key programmes to make water safe and conserve water, the minister said the Atal Bhujal mission was dedicated to recharging groundwater, while Jal Shakti campaign was devoted to creating awareness.
The Dam Rehabilitation Yojana has been launched to run fitness checks on hundreds of historic dams, which is critical for managing water.
“The resolve of the Prime Minister to reach drinking water to everyone is the first such resolve in the world,” the minister said.
“One water connection to a household makes a big difference you can’t imagine. It brings confidence to the family,” Shekhawat said.
Due to the large public-participation programme like “Catch the rain where it falls”, water conservation had become a mass movement.
He cited the example of Vadodara where residents were able to save 10 crore gallons of water.
Shekhawat complemented the Hindustan Times group for organising an environment conclave to further the cause of the environment and a sustainable future.
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