New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday created the Jal Shakti Ministry in keeping with the promise made during the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
Jodhpur MP Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, who defeated Rajasthan chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s son Vaibhav, was allocated the portfolio.
The ministry is a key project of the Modi government and was announced during the interim budget earlier this year.
Besides, in the different stages of his election campaign, the PM had promised that the initiative would provide clean drinking water to people.
Importantly, the Vajpayee-era dream of inter-linking the country’s rivers is also likely to get a massive boost through the ministry.
At present, several central ministries have different roles in the project and critics have argued that this results in much miscommunication and turf wars.
An official said, “There are multiple good reasons for the new ministry. Take for instance, the dream of providing piped water connection to every household by 2024. It is also likely that the Swachh Bharat scheme will be extended to providing clean water to people.”
According to a recent NITI Aayog report, almost 600 million Indians face “high to extreme water stress" and 75% households do not have drinking water in their homes.
The report also raises the alarm in 21 cities, including Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai and Hyderabad, that will face a massive shortage of water and run out of groundwater by 2020, impacting 100 million people.
The situation, officials said, will only get worse. The report suggests that by 2030, the country’s water demand will double.
The resultant water scarcity for hundreds of millions of people will result in a loss of 6% for the GDP, said the report.