Shekhawat was the Chief Guest and Ramdas Athawale, Minister of State for Social Justice & Empowerment, Government of India was the Guest of Honour at the inaugural Jal Jeevan Conclave, organised by the Integrated Health and Wellbeing (IHW) Council, on World Water Day.
The conclave was supported by Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), Brahmaputra Board, World Toilet Organisation, National Mission for Clean Ganga (Namami Gange), and The Global Interfaith WASH Alliance.
Emphasizing that the nationwide Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) will be completed within 2024, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Union Minister of Jal Shakti, Government of India, said that women play a major role in this programme.
Shekhawat was the Chief Guest at the inaugural Jal Jeevan Conclave, organised by the Integrated Health and Wellbeing (IHW) Council, on World Water Day, supported by Central Ground Water Board (CGWB), Brahmaputra Board, World Toilet Organisation, National Mission for Clean Ganga (Namami Gange), and The Global Interfaith WASH Alliance.
“Jal Jeevan Mission is not just about providing tap water to all rural households, but also empowering and engaging the community, especially, the women in leading this mission. We have reserved 50 per cent seats in the village committee for women to develop a responsible and responsive leadership at the village level. Besides, we have also trained about 4.5 lakh women to test the water quality. At the time when the mission was announced, out of 18.93 crore rural households, only 3.23 crore had tap water connections. In the past 15 months, we have made tap water available to about 4 crore households. All households in 52 districts have tap water, including 2 districts in Jammu and Kashmir. In about 85 villages, no woman needs to go out to fetch water. We are very sure that we will achieve the target well within time,” said Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Union Minister of Jal Shakti, Government of India.
Ramdas Athawale, Minister of State for Social Justice & Empowerment, Government of India, said, “Water is not only important for our body but for our intellectual growth as well. It is important for students to access clean water so be able to perform well. Clean water supply to schools and residential schools is our constant endeavour.”
“It is unfortunate that we hardly mind splurging a costly natural resource like water. 4 out of 5 rural houses do not have safe access to water, many drink water from unsafe and unprotected sources, leading to incidents such as arsenic poisoning and other water-borne diseases. India loses a total of 73 million working days that leads to an economic burden of USD 600 million a year. As our billion-plus country aspires to become healthy and Ayushman, access to safe drinking water is crucial,” said Kamal Narayan, CEO, Integrated Health and Wellbeing (IHW) Council.
Highlighting the importance of sanitation and the cultural angle to it, Shri Rajiv Yadav, Chairman, Brahmaputra Board, Government of India, said, “Just like affordable housing, we need affordable toilets using low-cost technology keeping in mind the socio-economic, cultural parameters of the region which will create a demand.”
“About 450 million people in India live on the banks of the rivers but it is estimated that by 2030, India will have only half the amount of water it needs. We must pledge to protect the water sources around us. Besides, plugging leakages is important to prevent wastage and for disease control. I urge you not to use water in plastic bottles – they pollute the environment,” said Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati, Co-Founder, The Global Interfaith WASH Alliance.
Varun Jhaveri, Former OSD, National Health Authority, Government of India, Dr Sanjiv Kumar, Chairperson, Indian Academy of Public Health, Jack Sim, Founder, World Toilet Organization, Anshuman Jaiswal, Associate Director, Water Resources, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), and Puneet Srivastava, Urban WASH Advisor (Utilities), WaterAid were among the other participants at the event.