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President stresses on conservation as Tamil Nadu reels under water crisis

President Kovind said that the creation of a separate ‘Jal Shakti’ ministry was a step in the right direction as water crisis may deepen in future.

india Updated: Jun 20, 2019 15:05 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi
President Kovind,Jal Shakti,Narendra Modi
President Ram Nath Kovind addressed the joint sitting of 17th Lok Sabha. (Photo ANI)

Solving India’s water problems, affecting all sections of society including households and business, will become a top priority for the Narendra Modi government in its second term, just like Swachhta Abhiyaan or cleanliness drive had defined its first term, said President Ram Nath Kovind in his opening address to the joint sitting of 17th Lok Sabha.

This commitment to meet one of the most basic amenities was expected, given the Prime Minister’s emphasis over the past few days to make water preservation along with universal access to drinking water, his government’s priority.

President Kovind said that the creation of a separate ‘Jal Shakti’ ministry was a step in the right direction as water crisis may deepen in future.

“Houses have been built on water bodies, water resources have been abused and climate change and global warming is going to further deepen the crisis. India has to show the same seriousness in dealing with the water crisis as done for a Swatch Bharat,”he said.

Also Read | ‘Clear mandate in polls’: President Ram Nath Kovind in address to joint Parliament session

“Govt will try to ensure that drinking water is available to all and farmers get enough water for irrigation,” he added.

The government’s sharp focus on the need to deal with the water question comes when Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu are battling severe water shortage due to the current deficiency in monsoon rains.

The stock in Maharashtra’s dams fell to 14.85% last week as Marathwada, the state’s worst-hit region, was left with 3.02% water in all its reservoirs — not enough to tide through the rest of summer.

A severe drought in Tamil Nadu has depleted three reservoirs – Poondi, Cholavaram and Chembarambakkam and affected water supply to capital Chennai. While many Chennai hotels have stopped serving lunch, some others have downed their shutters.

The fight for water in the parched state has also led to a murder and an attempted murder.

The Tamil Nadu government is mulling deploying tanker trains to bring water from other districts of the state to address Chennai’s water crisis that has left its residents parched and furious.

Also Read | President Ram Nath Kovind addresses joint sitting of Parliament: Full text

In Madhya Pradesh, the state government has asked superintendents of police of all 52 districts to guard water sources due to increasing clashes over sharing water.

2018 NITI Aayog report puts the scale of the crisis in perspective: India has only 4% of the planet’s fresh-water for 16% of its population. India is the world’s biggest groundwater extractor. As things stand, 21 cities, including Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad, will run out of groundwater by 2020 and 40% of our citizens will have no access to drinking water by 2030. As many as 600 million people are already estimated to face “high-to-extreme” water stress every year.

First Published: Jun 20, 2019 15:03 IST