Over Rs 3.5 lakh crore will be spent in the coming years under the Jal Jeevan Mission to bring piped water to households, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday. In his Independence Day address, Modi said half of the country's households do not have access to piped water. The prime minister further exuded confidence that in a few weeks India will be able to declare itself open-defecation free, he credited states, villages and local bodies for building a strong campaign towards it.
Modi said in the last 70 years, different governments at the Centre as well as the state level worked at their own level but the reality is nearly half of the households in the country do not have access to drinking water.
He said people, especially women, have to walk miles to get drinking water.
"I want to announce from the Red Fort that we will move forward with Jal Jeevan Mission. The Centre and states will work towards it and in the coming years, more than Rs 3.5 lakh crore will be spent," the prime minister said.
He said all efforts will be done to conserve water and rejuvenate water sources.
Modi said for water conservation, efforts need to quadruple in the next five years as to what was done in the last seven decades.
The government has resolved to provide piped water to all households by 2024. It has clubbed all erstwhile water related ministries under one new Jal Shakti Ministry.
In her Budget speech, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said the new ministry will look at the management of water resources and water supply in an integrated and holistic manner, and will work with states to ensure Har Ghar Jal (piped water supply) to all rural households by 2024 under the Jal Jeevan Mission.
In his speech, Modi, quoting Saint Thiruvalluvar from Tamil Nadu, said if water gets over, the work of nature stops and it results in destruction.
Stressing on the importance of saving water, Modi said Jain monk Buddhi Sagar, some 100 years ago, had predicted that water will be sold in grocery shops and today, people buy water from such shops.
He also emphasised that the Jal Jeevan Mission should not be a government initiative alone. "Just like Swachch India Mission, this should also be a mission of the people," Modi said.
Video: PM Modi addresses nation on 73rd Independence Day