The coronavirus illness (Covid-19) pandemic has made no distinction to India’s said objective of offering piped water to all households by 2024, Jal Shakti minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat mentioned. In an interview to HT, Shekhawat conceded that in some states, it was a problem to offer water for frequent washing of fingers that well being consultants advise as a manner of holding the virus at bay. He added: “Wanting in the direction of the problem itself, PM had envisaged this programme (Jal Jeevan Mission) . Chances are you’ll name it luxurious however we’re going to obtain it within the focused time.” Edited excerpts:
Your ministry’s goal has been to offer faucet water to all by 2024. Has the coronavirus illness pandemic made any distinction to the plan?
No, in no way. We’re nonetheless set for our targets for 2024 and offering practical consuming water to each family. Earlier than this Covid interval, we had been working exhausting ever since PM introduced this on 15 August from Crimson Fort. We requested states to gather the low hanging fruits– villages that have already got current, sustainable sources of water — may begin retrofitting pipes. I can proudly say that we’ve achieved our objective for the primary yr. Concurrently, throughout the Covid interval, the two.5 months, we weren’t sitting idle. We repeatedly did conferences with states and ministers. We needed to make use of this era to finish the planning for the implementation of this programme. We requested them to make their state execution plan for this yr and the remaining three years.
So you’re finishing the theoretical half throughout the lockdown?
Sure and as quickly as the development exercise was allowed in Lockdown 2, we requested states to begin work as quickly as doable. Right this moment, for instance, I had conferences with Chattisgarh CM and Madhya Pradesh CM and I’ve requested CMs to make use of the Jal Jeevan Mission as a programme to offer employment on the grassroots degree. Since each village needs to be supplied piped water, each village may have work for laying pipes, digging trenches, etcetera. MNREGA Mahatma Gandhi Nationwide Rural Employment Assure Act finances has been elevated, so we’ve requested states to utilise that cash as nicely by consolidating funds so you’re offering employment and reaching (piped water) targets.
So there’s a convergence of provide and demand? However your ministry information says solely 18% individuals have piped water proper now. So how troublesome is it for individuals to observe washing of fingers?
It’s actually difficult, however water was not accessible as an entire however via the water consuming water programme and work of the states through the years, it was accessible within the shut neighborhood. Whether or not it’s within the 50-100 metres and for another villages, it’s a longer distance, however nonetheless it was accessible. We wrote a letter to the states throughout the lockdown, to make sure sustainable water provide via these public standposts or widespread sources of water.
However virtually talking, it have to be an issue. Isn’t it a luxurious to have the ability to wash fingers incessantly? Particularly in states like West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, which have only one%, and Biha, which has 2% households with piped water.
It’s a problem. Wanting in the direction of the problem itself, PM had envisaged this programme (Jal Jeevan Mission) . Chances are you’ll name it luxurious however we’re going to obtain it within the focused time.
What do you make of the negative effects that we’re seeing of the lockdown? Experiences that the Ganga has turn into a lot cleaner. Do you concern that issues will instantly return as quickly because the lockdown ends?
There are three seen causes of water pollution–sewage, industrial effluents and third, by human interactions. Out of three, two had been closed–industry and the human interactions, because of the lockdown. Due to that there are modifications which have been noticed within the high quality of water however so far as the Ganga is worried, it’s not a significant distinction. Within the Ganga, within the final Kumbh final yr, 22 crore individuals noticed modifications within the high quality of water. That’s due to the mission mode effort underneath the PM of Namami Gange. Within the month of October- November, we did a rafting expedition from Devprayag to Rishikesh. In these 90 odd kilometres, I simply picked up some water from the river in my glass and it was completely potable. On this season, because the water comes from melting snow, it seems comparatively higher. Similiar place can also be within the Yamuna water, there was important rainfall which elevated the water within the river. It was a coincidence that there have been premature rains in any other case we solely see sewage within the Yamuna on this interval. Water for harvest was additionally not taken out of the river so amount of water elevated.
Wanting on the industrial shutdown as a chance, Prime Minister instructed us to take samples of the river and use this era as a chance to review, how a lot air pollution is contributed via industrial effluence. This can be utilized for future planning.
So how will you employ it?
We’ve collected all the information of various stretches of the Yamuna and Ganga throughout the lockdown interval. Now we’re in a position to inform how a lot air pollution is contributed by sewage within the metropolis and the way a lot by industries. So we’ve tied up with Central Air pollution Management Board and likewise with the IITs Indian Institutes of Know-how other than our inside our bodies so on the finish of it, we’ll have in depth information on this.