National Water Awards: The Vice President of India, Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar, conferred the 4th National Water Awards, 2022 at Vigyan Bhawan in New Delhi. 41 winners, including joint winners across 11 categories were awarded for their exemplary work in the field of water conservation and management. Each award winner was conferred with a citation and a trophy as well as cash prizes in certain categories. The Vice President also launched an animated short film on ‘Piku’, the mascot of National Water Mission for telecast on Doordarshan to spread the message of water conservation. The event started with the traditional ‘Jal Kalash’ ceremony.
Addressing the gathering, Vice President, Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar appreciated the award winners asserting that their contribution towards water conservation and management is extraordinary and will set an example for the coming generations towards the development of the nation. He said that it is the best example of the transformation that our country has seen in the last ten years. Shri Dhankhar appreciated the Ministry of Jal Shakti for very effective execution of the Jal Jeevan Mission which exemplifies the objectives of quantity, quality and continuity. He also commended the efforts of officers/staff of the Ministry for their outstanding work in the water sector and urged public representatives, media and civil society organisations for supporting them in implementation of their schemes & programmes.
Shri Dhankhar stressed the need for optimum utilization of our natural resources by all sections of society and stated that the ponds in the villages of India are like their lungs which are shrinking due to encroachments. He suggested that the Ministry should take up the task of development of existing ponds in each and every village of the country. The rejuvenation of these ponds will help revive water bodies on a large scale and simultaneously assist in augmenting animal husbandry and contribute immensely to the economic development of the country. He also urged that the public representatives at each level of governance from Panchayat to Parliament to plant at least 100 trees per year and appealed to all citizens to make water conservation of an integral aspect of their daily lives in the spirit of ‘Jan Andolan’ and commit to the “3Rs of Reduce, Reuse and Recycle”.
The Union Minister for Jal Shakti, Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat expressed gratitude toward the award winners for their efforts in the field of water management and conservation and said that these Awards have made a deep impact and fostered a healthy competitive environment among those working in the water sector. Shri Shekhawat congratulated the state of Madhya Pradesh for winning the first prize in best State category as well as Odisha for the second position and Andhra Pradesh and Bihar for winning the third position jointly.
He specially congratulated Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shri Shivraj Singh Chauhan and his government for commendable work done in the direction of water conservation and water management. He said “The way Madhya Pradesh has worked from the point of view of water management, it will certainly serve as an inspiration for many states and institutions”.
Talking about the importance of water, Shri Shekhawat said “water is foundation of our life. Life cannot be imagined in any form without it. The per capita availability of water is decreasing with each passing day. Water scarcity has emerged as a major challenge. Water is also a common point of concern for all of us. We face great challenges in terms of our water resources as India is home to about 18% of the world’s population, over 18% of the livestock, but we have just 4% of the fresh water resources of the world. Our challenge is grave as the pace of urbanization is high and India also has large geographical variation”.
Highlighting the initiatives of the Ministry of Jal Shakti, Shri Shekhawat said “Under the guidance of Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi “Jal Shakti Abhiyan – Catch the Rain” campaign which has been carried out with the cooperation from the Ministry of Panchayati Raj and Ministry of Rural Development has brought about a new momentum in the field of rain water harvesting and water conservation. Jal Jeevan Mission, world’s biggest drinking water supply program is well on its way to providing household tap connections to about 194 million rural households, thereby providing drinking water security. Under the Mission, the journey which the Ministry started with a little more than 15% households, today in a short span of less than 4 years, has surpassed from 15% to about 63% households”.
The Union Minister further mentioned that the water dependence of the country is maximum on ground water and it is a big challenge to maintain sustainability by compensating the water resources. Pilot projects like Atal Bhujal Yojana focusses on demand side management of ground water and the encouraging results in ground water recharge demonstrate community-led sustainable ground water management. Shri Shekhawat highlighted the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana which has, on one hand, created 30 lakh hectares of new irrigation area and on the other, brought about 70 lakh hectares of land under smart/micro irrigation due to coordinated efforts with the states. He also mentioned that 56,000 Amrit Sarovars all over the country have been constructed and almost the same number of Amrit Sarovars are under construction. The Minister heralded the linking of Ken and Betwa rivers as the beginning of a new era in the country. 30 links have been identified which will help to quench the thirst of thirsty rivers and thirsty throats. Thus, the Ministry is working towards maximizing the use of water resources and transferring water from surplus basin to deficit basin.
Delivering the welcome speech earlier, Minister of State for Jal Shakti, Shri Prahlad Singh Patel welcomed all the dignitaries, jury members, media personnel & participants to the award distribution ceremony and stated “Water is the fundamental need of life and is vital for survival of all living forms present on earth. The conservation of water requires joint efforts on the part of every section of society and from this standpoint, to create awareness among the people about the importance of water and to help motivate people to adopt the best water usage practices, the National Water Awards were launched in 2018 by the Department of Water Resources, RD & GR.”
Minister of State for Jal Shakti, Shri Bishweswar Tudu congratulated the award winners and stated that many water campaigns are being run by the Government of India but these campaigns can only be successful through active public participation. He emphasised the need for conserving water through community participation.
The Secretary, Department of Water Resources, RD & GR, Ministry of Jal Shakti, Shri Pankaj Kumar concluded the event with a vote of thanks to the Vice President for inaugurating the event and encouraging the national water awardees and other Dignitaries, Jury committee, the Officers of the Department and WAPCOS. He especially thanked the award winners for their exemplary efforts in carrying forward the message of water conservation and proper water use. He expressed confidence that their inspiring work will serve as a beacon in the field of water management and conservation for the years ahead.