Pune: Rivers are synonymous with civilizations and there is a need to re-establish respect for water, Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat has said.
The minister also said that “water availability” is at the helm of Vision India@2047 and for the growth of the economy.
Shekhawat was speaking on Monday at the opening session of DHARA 2023 (Driving Holistic Action for Urban Rivers) being organised by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) and the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) in Pune.
DHARA 2023 is the annual meeting of the members of the River Cities Alliance (RCA) and provides a platform for senior officials including commissioners, additional commissioners, chief engineers and senior planners of over 100 member cities in India to co-learn and discuss solutions for managing local water resources.
“The world is looking at us because of our growth, especially when India has been handed over the G20 presidency,” Shekhawat said.
“I was happy to see that 25 states participated in an event in Bhopal and made presentations on their plans. Water availability is the basis of making the Vision@2047 target a success and it is our firm belief that the requirement of water is directly proportional to the growth of the economy,” the minister said.
India@2047 is being undertaken by the Government of India under the rubric of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.
Shekhawat also spoke on the importance of de-centralised planning in effectively managing water resources.
The planning can best be done at the level of the local self-bodies to connect with the people, which is essential for the success of any programme concerning water, he said.
Shekhawat advised caution while ensuring that programmes on rivers do not get limited to infrastructure development but a robust people-river connection is needed.
“It is necessary to reestablish the respect for water, which went down from generation to generation as part of the traditional wisdom of our forefathers. It is time that we generate that sentiment in the younger generation by using social media, which is a powerful tool in the times we live,” he added.
Shekhawat further said rivers are synonymous with civilizations, and after several decades of using rivers for survival, “we must reflect on what we have given the rivers back, otherwise our future generation will bear the brunt of water scarcity”.