Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat on Monday announced the commencement of Jal Shakti Abhiyan (JSA), a two-phase drive to capture maximum rainwater during the monsoon season. While the focus of the campaign is water-stressed districts across the country, it is also the first step in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's mission to make water conservation a mass movement.
The JSA will be implemented in two phases—July 1 to September 15 for those areas that get the south-west monsoon rain, and October 1 to November 30 for those that receive rain from the north-east returning leg of the monsoon. JSA will be a collaborative inter-ministerial effort between the Centre and state governments, under the coordination of the department of drinking water and sanitation. The major focus will be on 1,592 blocks in 256 water-stressed districts, and will work towards five interventions: water conservation and rainwater harvesting, renovation of traditional and other water bodies, borewell recharge structures, watershed development and intensive afforestation. In addition, block and district water conservation plans will be formed to promote efficient use of water in irrigation and better choice of crops through Krishi Vigyan Kendras.
Modi flagged the nation's water crisis during the elections itself and made it part of his first address to Parliament. In Sunday's Mann ki Baat, too, he appealed to citizens and organisations to make water conservation a mass movement.
The decisions come at a time when India is reportedly facing its worst water crisis ever. Reports from the Central Water Commission have highlighted the dipping levels of ground water across the country, and the water crisis in Chennai, where reservoirs have reached the last one per cent of their stock. The poor progress of the monsoon has not helped much either.