The water situation is a concern but not as alarming as described by Niti Aayog: the minister of the Union Shekhawat

NEW DELHI: Minister of the Union 'Jal Shakti' Gajendra singh Shekhawat said Monday that the water situation in the country was certainly cause for concern, but it was not as alarming as he described it in his report last year.

The data used in that study was based on cuts from certain newspaper reports, Shekhawat said while dismissing specific points from Aayog's report on 21 cities. The government's expert group had indicated in its report that the 21 major cities, including Delhi, Bangalore and Hyderabad, were expected to run out of groundwater by 2020, affecting 100 million people.

Aayog, in his study on the management of compound water resources, published in June last year, attributed his research source to the World Bank (WB) and the World Resources Institute (IRG) as reported by the newspapers.

However, both organizations (WB and WRI) did not disclose any specific findings on groundwater status in 21 major Indian cities, as noted by Aayog in his report. The minister's comment on the report came in response to a question about cities.

However, the current water situation in many parts of the country is cause for concern and that is why we have launched a campaign on water conservation and - so that we do not move from one water stress condition to another in the future, he said. Shekhawat while talking about the 'Abhiyan'.

According to the Falkenmark water stress indicator, a per capita availability of less than 1,700 cubic meters per year is called a water stress condition, while if per capita availability falls below 1,000 cubic meters, it is called a water shortage condition .

Noting how India's annual per capita water availability has been steadily declining (5,177 cubic meters in 1951 to 1,545 cubic meters in 2011), the minister said: We have launched efforts so that we do not reach the projected level of 2025 (1,341 cubic meters ) or 2050.

The campaign, which begins on Monday in 1,592 blocks with water stress in 256 districts, will continue until November 30 in two phases: from July 1 to September 15 (monsoon phase) and from October 1 to November 30 ( monsoon phase in retreat).

Making presentations on the campaign, the secretary of the department of drinking water and sanitation ministry Jal Shakti, Parameswaran Iyer, said that water conservation and rainwater harvesting; renewal of traditional bodies and water tanks and others; reuse of well recharge structures; River basin development and intensive reforestation would be key interventions during the campaign.

He said that the teams of Center officials would visit and work with the district administration in blocks identified in 256 districts to ensure these five important interventions for water conservation.