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Water governance to cater India’s vast rural population

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The concept of water governance is an outcome of India's reality of providing proper tap water access to about four crore (40 million) rural households only since independence. The statistics are unbecoming of a country with a $3 trillion economy, but the efforts in place reflect the seriousness of the government to cater to the water needs of a vast rural population.

Among the measures to offer its people essential humanitarian services like nutrition and water, there is a dedicated ministry for water resources. It launched schemes like Jal Jeevan Mission (2019), which claimed to have provided water connections to about five crore (50 million) households in the last two years – more than the number of households that obtained such connections in the last sixty-five years.

With its fast pace, the Jal Jeevan Mission has an ambitious target to provide safe and adequate drinking water through individual household tap connections to all rural households by the year 2024, said official sources in the ministry of water resources.

There is a move to create new water bodies and recharge older ones. For which there is a scheme called Amrit Sarovar Yojana. Launched in April 2022, the scheme has over 75 ponds constructed in every district of the country to ensure that there is no shortage of drinking water in future. Amrit Sarovar Yojana is a long-term plan of the government of India to ensure water security in the country.

The scheme, according to sources, has been achieving resounding success in water conservation measures within months of its launch.

"More than 25,000 ponds have been constructed as part of the scheme, which aims at removing the water scarcity issues plaguing rural areas of India by the upcoming Independence Day in 2023," news agency ANI reported citing official sources.

Jal Shakti Abhiyaan is another interesting initiative to help conserve water rainwater, for which a campaign called 'Catch the Rain' is underway.

"The scheme is to promote awareness about a special action plan for rainwater conservation in the country; emphasis is put on ensuring that arrangements are in place before the onset of monsoon. Tree plantation, cleaning, puddle construction, and other awareness-related drives are conducted as part of this campaign to create adequate awareness of the issue. On a larger scale, efforts have been made to make proper and judicious use of water through the dam safety rehabilitation programmes," the report said.

The idea is to create mass awareness for water conservation. The focus is there also to maintain existing dams to conserve water, which is crucial to life and property in rural areas. A Dam Safety Act has been put into motion, which can be implemented after deliberations and scrutiny.

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