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PM’s address at interaction with Gram Panchayats and Pani Samitis on Jal Jeevan Mission

PM’s address at interaction with Gram Panchayats and Pani Samitis on Jal Jeevan Mission

Namaskar,

My colleagues in the Union Cabinet Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat ji, Shri Prahlad Singh Patel ji, Shri Bishweswar Tudu ji, Chief Ministers and Ministers of the states, members of Panchayats and Pani Samitis from across the country and my brothers and sisters who are virtually associated with this program.

We remember two great sons of the country with immense pride on October 2. The villages of India were part of the hearts of revered Bapu and Lal Bahadur Shastri ji, the two great personalities. I am happy that on this day people from lakhs of villages across the country are organizing ‘Jal Jeevan Samvad’ in the form of ‘Gram Sabhas’. Such an unprecedented and nationwide-mission can be made successful only with this enthusiasm and energy. The vision of Jal Jeevan Mission is not only to make water accessible to the people. It is also a massive decentralization movement. This is a village-driven and women-driven movement. Its main basis is mass movement and public participation. And today we are seeing this happen in this event.

Brothers and sisters,

Several more steps have also been taken today to make the Jal Jeevan Mission more empowered and transparent. All the information related to this campaign will be available on the Jal Jeevan Mission App like how many households have access to water, the quality of water, details of water supply scheme etc. It will also have your village’s information. Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance Framework will help in maintaining water quality. The people of the villages will also be able to keep a close watch on the purity of water with the help of this app.

Friends,

This year we are celebrating the birth anniversary of revered Bapu along with the virtuous era of independence. It is a matter of great satisfaction that the people have worked tirelessly and lent their support to make Bapu’s dreams come true. Today the cities and villages of the country have been declared open defecation free. About two lakh villages are involved in waste management. More than 40,000 gram panchayats have also decided to stop single use plastic. Khadi, which has been a victim of neglect for a long time, is now being sold manifold. With all these efforts, the country is moving ahead with the resolve of AatmaNirbhar campaign.

Friends,

Gandhiji used to say that the real meaning of ‘Gram Swaraj’ is that it should be flush with self-confidence. Therefore, it has been my constant endeavor that this philosophy of Gram Swaraj should become a reality. During my long tenure in Gujarat, I have had the privilege to realize the vision of Gram Swaraj. The resolve of open defecation free under Nirmal Gaon, revival of old step wells under the Jal Mandir campaign, 24-hour electricity supply to villages under the Jyotigram scheme, promotion of harmony in villages under the Teerthgram scheme, broadband connectivity to all the gram panchayats through E-Gram, have been made the mainstay of development of the state through many such efforts. In the last two decades, Gujarat has received many awards from national as well as international institutions for such schemes, especially for its excellent work in the sphere of water.

Friends,

When the country gave me a new responsibility in 2014, I got an opportunity to expand the experience of Gram Swaraj in Gujarat at the national level. Gram Swaraj does not only mean holding elections in Panchayats, or choosing Sarpanchs. Gram Swaraj will become useful only when the people of the villages actively participate in the planning and management related to the development works of the villages. With this goal in mind, the government has given an amount of more than 2.25 lakh crore rupees directly to the Gram Panchayats, especially for water and sanitation. Now while more and more powers are being given to Gram Panchayats, on the other hand, transparency is also being taken care of. The Jal Jeevan Mission and the Pani Samitis (water committees) are also a big proof of the commitment of the central government towards Gram Swaraj.

Friends,

We have watched many such movies, read stories and poems in which it is told in detail how the women and children of the villages walk miles to fetch water. People have such images of struggles when the thought of a village comes to their mind. But very few people have queries in their minds as to why these people have to go to a river or a pond every day and why the water is not available to them. I think those who had the responsibility of decision making for a long time should have asked themselves this. But they did not. Because where these people lived, they had never seen the problem of water. They do not even know the agony of life without water. They have plenty of water in their houses, water in the swimming pools, they have water everywhere. Such people had never seen poverty, so poverty remained an attraction to them, a manifestation in literature and intellectual knowledge. These people should have affection for an ideal village, but they continued to like the penury of the villages.

I come from a state like Gujarat where I have seen drought most of the time. I also know the importance of every drop of water. Being the Chief Minister of Gujarat, making water available to people and water conservation were my priorities. Not only did we make water available to people and farmers, we also ensured that there is an increase in groundwater level as well. This was a big reason that I worked constantly on the water challenges after becoming the Prime Minister. The results that we are getting today are going to make every Indian proud.

Since independence and till 2019, only three crore households in our country have had access to tap water. Since the launch of the Jal Jeevan Mission in 2019, five crore households have water connections now. Today, water is reaching every household in 1.25 lakh villages of about 80 districts of the country. In other words, the work that was done in the last seven decades, India of today has done more than that in just two years. The day is not far when no sister and daughter of the country will have to walk long everyday to fetch water. She will be able to utilize her time properly for her betterment, education, or start her own set-up for employment.

Brothers and sisters,

It is our responsibility to see that water shortage does not become a hindrance to the development of India. Everyone’s effort is very necessary. We are also accountable to our future generations. We can’t allow our children to spend their entire life dealing with the water shortage and not be able to put their energy into nation building. In order to ensure this, we have to continue our efforts on war footing. A long time has passed since 75 years of independence, now we have to move very fast. We have to ensure that we are not forced to transport water by ‘tankers’ or ‘trains’ to any part of the country.

Friends,

I have said earlier also that we should use water as a boon. But some people do not realize its importance and waste water since it is easily accessible. They do not understand the value of water. The value of water is understood by those who face water scarcity. He only knows how much effort is needed to collect every drop of water. I would urge every citizen, who has enough water, to make more efforts to save water. And, understandably, people will have to change their habits too. At many places, we have seen water overflowing from a tap, but people are not bothered. I have seen many people who leave the tap open at night and put the bucket upside down under it. When water comes in the morning and falls on the bucket, its sound acts as a morning alarm for them. They do not realize the alarming water situation around the world.

In Mann Ki Baat, I often mention such great personalities who have made water conservation or water harvesting as the biggest mission of their life. One should also learn from such people and draw inspiration. Different programs happen in different corners of the country and that information can be useful in our villages. Today, I also request the Gram Panchayats across the country associated with this program to work wholeheartedly for the protection and cleanliness of the water sources in the village. We can achieve our goals by saving rain water, using household water for agriculture and promoting crops which consume less water.

Friends,

There are many regions in the country where there is a problem of polluted water and in some areas the amount of arsenic in the water is high. In such areas, having pure water through pipes in every house is like the biggest blessing in life for the people there. At one time, there were only eight lakh tap connections in the 61 districts of the country affected by encephalitis, i.e. brain fever. Today this number has increased to more than 1.11 crore. Water is being supplied to every household on priority basis in the districts which were left behind in the race of development and where there is an unprecedented aspiration for development. Now the number of tap connections in aspirational districts has increased from 31 lakhs to more than 1.16 crore.

Friends,

Besides ensuring the supply of drinking water in the country, work is going on in a large scale to manage water and to create a comprehensive infrastructure for irrigation. For the first time most of the water related subjects have been brought under the Ministry of Jal Shakti for effective management of water. Work is going on with a clear strategy to make the water of Ganga as well as other rivers pollution free. Under the Atal Bhujal Yojana, work is being done to raise the groundwater level in seven states of the country. In the last seven years, a lot of emphasis has been laid on piped irrigation and micro irrigation under the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana. So far, more than 13 lakh hectares of land has been brought under micro-irrigation. Several such efforts are underway to realize the resolution of Per Drop More Crop. Of the 99 long-pending irrigation projects, nearly half have been completed and the work for the rest is in full swing. A special campaign is being run with thousands of crores of rupees for better management and maintenance of dams across the country. Under this, more than 200 dams have been improved.

Friends,

Water also has a huge role to play in the battle against malnutrition. If water reaches every house, the health of the children will also improve. Recently, the government also approved the PM Poshan Shakti Nirman Scheme. Under this scheme, children will also be educated in schools across the country and their nutrition will also be ensured. The central government is going to spend more than Rs 54,000 crore on this scheme. It will benefit about 12 crore children of the country.

Friends,

There is a saying:

उप-कर्तुम् यथा सु-अल्पम्, समर्थो न तथा महान् |

प्रायः कूपः तृषाम् हन्ति, सततम् न तु वारिधिः ||

That is, a small well of water can quench the thirst of people, whereas such a large ocean cannot do so. How true is this! Sometimes we see that one’s small effort is bigger than many big decisions. The same thing applies to the Pani Samitis today. Though the work related to water and its conservation is done by the Pani Samitis at the village level, its scope is very large. These Pani Samitis are bringing a huge change in the lives of the poor-Dalits-Deprived-Adivasis.

People who could not get tap water for seven decades after independence, a small tap changed their world. It is also a matter of pride that 50 percent of the members in the Pani Samitis, formed under the Jal Jeevan Mission, are essentially women. It is the achievement of the country that Pani Samitis have been formed in about 3.5 lakh villages in such a short span of time. Just a while back we have also seen during Jal Jeevan Samvad how efficiently the village women are working in these Pani Samitis. I am happy that the women of the villages are also being given special training to test the water of their villages.

Friends,

Empowerment of village women is one of the top priorities of our government. Over the years, special attention has been paid to the health and safety of daughters. With toilets at homes and schools, cheaper sanitary pads, thousands of rupees for nutrition during pregnancy and vaccination campaigns, women have been empowered. Under the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana, more than two crore pregnant women have been given direct assistance of about Rs 8,000 crore. Most of the 2.5 crore pucca houses that have been built in villages are owned by women. Ujjwala Yojana has liberated crores of village women from the smoke of wood.

Women entrepreneurs have got about 70 percent of the loans under the Mudra Yojana. Rural women are also being connected with the self-reliance mission through self-help groups. There has been a rise of self-help groups more than three times during the last seven years and participation of sisters has been ensured three times. Under the National Livelihood Mission, the amount of help sent by the government for the sisters in the first five years before 2014 has increased by about 13 times in the last seven years. Moreover, loans to the tune of about Rs. 4 lakh crore have also been made available to these mothers and sisters through self-help groups. The government has also substantially increased loans to self-help groups without guarantee.

Brothers and sisters,

The development of India is dependent on the development of villages. Along with the people living in the villages, youth and farmers, the government is giving priority to schemes which will make the villages of India more efficient. The Gobardhan scheme is being run to use the bio-waste generated from the animals and houses in the villages. More than 300 bio-gas plants have been set up in more than 150 districts under this scheme. More than 1.5 lakh health and wellness centers are being developed so that village people can get better first aid and necessary tests done in the villages itself. Out of these, about 80,000 health and wellness centers have already been set up. Financial assistance has also been increased for our sisters working in village Anganwadis. Technology is being used widely to make available facilities and other government services to the villages.

Under the PM Swamitva Yojana, digital property cards of village lands and houses are being prepared by mapping them with the help of drones. Whereas less than a hundred panchayats of the country were connected with broadband connectivity till seven years ago, today optical fiber has reached 1.5 lakh panchayats under the Swamitva scheme. Due to affordable mobile phones and cheaper Internet services, today more people in villages are using the Internet than in cities. Today more than three lakh Common Service Centers are providing dozens of government schemes in the villages itself and giving employment to thousands of youth.

Today record investment is being made for all kinds of rural infrastructure. Be it the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojna, Agri Fund of one lakh crore rupees, construction of cold storages near the villages, construction of industrial clusters, or modernization of agricultural markets, rapid work is going on in every sector. The Rs 3.60 lakh crore that has been earmarked for the Jal Jeevan Mission will be spent in the villages only. This mission will not only boost the rural economy, but will also create many new employment opportunities in the villages.

Friends,

We have demonstrated to the world that the people of India can achieve even the toughest of goals with determination and collective efforts. We have to come together to make this campaign a success. I pause with the wish that the Jal Jeevan Mission reaches its goal at the earliest.

Many best wishes to all of you!

Thanks!