A view of the Betwa river in Bundelkhand region near Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh. | Source: The Hindu/R.V. Moorthy

Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi will launch the “Jal Shakti Abhiyan: Catch the Rain” campaign on World Water Day (22nd March 2021). It is scheduled at 12:30 PM and would be carried out using video conferencing.

It is also scheduled to sign a historic Memorandum of Agreement between the Union Minister of Jal Shakti and the Chief Ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. The memorandum aims to implement the Ken Betwa Link Project, the first project of the National Perspective Plan for the interlinking of rivers.

Ken Betwa Link Project

The agreement envisages the beginning of inter-state cooperation to implement the vision of Former Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee to carry water from areas that have surplus water to drought-prone and water deficit areas, through the interlinking of rivers.

The project is designed to transfer water from Ken to the Betwa River through the construction of Daudhan Dam and a canal linking the two rivers, the Lower Orr Project, Kotha Barrage and Bina Complex Multipurpose Project. It is expected to provide annual irrigation of 10.62 lakh ha, drinking water supply to about 62 lakh people and also generate 103 MW of hydropower. The Project will be of immense benefit to the water-starved region of Bundelkhand, especially to the districts of Panna, Tikamgarh, Chhatarpur, Sagar, Damoh, Datia, Vidisha, Shivpuri and Raisen of Madhya Pradesh and Banda, Mahoba, Jhansi and Lalitpur of Uttar Pradesh. It will pave the way for more interlinking of river projects to ensure that scarcity of water does not become an inhibitor to development in the country.

Jal Shakti Abhiyan: Catch the Rain

The Campaign “Jal Shakti Abhiyan: Catch the Rain” will be undertaken throughout the country. The theme of the campaign is “catch the rain, where it falls, when it falls”. It will be implemented from 22nd March 2021 to 30th November 2021 – the pre-monsoon and monsoon period in the country. It is carried out with the hope that the campaign will be a Jan Andolan to conserve water through people participations and encourage the public to create rainwater harvesting structures which deem suitable for climatic and soil conditions. Once the campaign is initiated, the meeting is expected in all Gram Panchayats of each district (except in the poll bound states) to discuss issues related to water and water conservation. Gram Sabhas will also take ‘Jal Shapath’ for water conservation.

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