Govt to adopt latest techs for 'Har Ghar Jal': Shekhawat (IANS Exclusive, Part 1)
By BY ARCHANA SHARMA
The newly formed Jal Shakti Mantralaya is taking up innovative measures to meet the deadline for the 'Har Ghar Jal' scheme by 2024, said Union Minister of Jal Shakti, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat.
The measures include adopting a latest technology named Helibound to map the water reservoirs pan India, bringing in a law on Right to Way for rivers, rejuvenating traditional water resources across the nation and planning to bring the unsung heroes who have done credible job in enhancing ground water level in their villages on one platform.
In an exclusive interview with IANS, Shekhawat informed that his ministry is now contemplating to bring in a law on Right of Way for rivers in India to ensure their smooth flow.
"It's sad that encroachments are coming up on rivers. So we are thinking to bring in a policy on Right of Way, so that rivers have their own paths and ways. The encroachments on rivers result in two major losses. Firstly, the water from river fails to reach other water bodies, and secondly, the river takes its own toll when it rains heavily which leads to huge losses.
"So we have found that rivers need to have Right of Way and we are contemplating to bring in a law on the same so that there is a clear cut policy in this direction," he said.
The minister said that he is very much inspired by Israel's model on water conservation.
"Israel's model is quite inspiring when it comes to water harvesting. It is one country which has set up an example by making itself self-sufficient on water related issues, despite getting only 10 per cent of India's average rainfall.
"They have tackled each issue of water smartly. While the average rainfall in India is 1068 mm, the average rainfall in Israel is just 100 mm," the minister said.
The minister said that primarily, his ministry is working on four key areas.
"The first issue is of water harvesting and water retention. The total water retention is quite less in India. However, our under ground water capability is quite huge with tremendous scope, but it is not used properly, rather it is over exploited.
"Secondly, we should use water judiciously. As per the present statistics, we use 6 per cent water for industry, 5 per cent for drinking and domestic purposes, while 89 per cent is used for agriculture. We need to balance the supply chain and demand side for judicious use," Shekhawat said.
In fact, the average water consumption in India while producing one kg of rice is 5,600 litre. In many places, it goes up to 8,000 litre. However, China produces the same quantity of rice with 350 litre of water.
Same is the case with sugar in Maharashtra where 80 per cent water is consumed by sugar cane farming.
"The states will have to change their policies. What we need to look into is that what we can afford should be grown," he said.
The minister said that he will like to appreciate the states of Haryana, Maharashtra and Punjab for introducing ambitious and inspiring policies to save water.
"The Punjab government brought in the 'Paani Bachao, Paisa Kamao' scheme, under which the farmers are getting monetary benefits for lesser use of tubewell.
"In Haryana, the government has asked the farmers to grow maize and corn instead of rice, promising them 100 per cent procurement. 18,000 hectare of land has been transferred to grow maize and corns.
"Similarly, in Maharashtra, drip irrigation has been made compulsory, and the government will give money if the farmers save 70 per cent water losses in sugarcane farming," Shekhawat said.
The government needs to reduce water on agri consumption to be successful, he added.
Reuse of water is the third goal, he said, adding that "we need to learn the art of water reuse. Israel reuses its water from industrial affluence and domestic sewage output for underground water recharge and other purposes."
Fourthly, the minister said, technology should be used to minimise water use for agriculture and irrigation purposes.
Also, one should reduce non-revenue water which is total loss of water which happens from the time you get water from its source till the time you get your bill, he said.
"In case of electricity, it is called as T&D. However, in water, it is called non-revenue water which is 45 per cent on an average in India while it is just 10 per cent in developed countries. However, there are a few cities in India such as Jamshedpur where this figure is just 10 per cent," Shekhawat said.
According to the minister, "The biggest challenge being faced by our ministry is that there is no audit of water, there is no price for water and there is no availability of ground water data.
"Hence we have decided to have the Helibound technology. This will be a programme to map underground water reserves across India. We have already surveyed one million square km and 1.5 million square km more will be surveyed in the next two years. Under this technology, a helicopter does cent per cent mapping of the 300 metre sub surface level from wherever it passes."
The new technology will help attain satellite availability of data for water reservoirs in each village, while giving the underground water status there, he said.
"In fact, we have already crossed a bottleneck by ensuring that each and every person starts discussing water and understands its significance. Prime Minister Narendra Modi through his speeches have brought in a national awareness on this issue," Shekhawat said.IANS