Water conservation top priority for government: Uma Bharti

New Delhi, Mar 29  Water formed the backbone of the Gujarat model of development and the same is being replicated across the country under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's leadership, Union Minister Uma Bharti said today.

"Water was the basis of the much talked about development model of Gujarat when Narendra Modi was the chief minister there and water is the basis of national development now that Modi has become India's Prime Minister," Bharti said.

The Water Resources Minister was speaking at an event for children on the theme of water conservation and pollution at Chhath Puja Ghat on the banks of Yamuna river here.

Hailing Israel for doing "pioneering work" in the field of water technology, Bharti underlined the need for India to adopt similar practices in its water conservation drive.

"Israel was a barren land when it was first formed. There was shortage of water. So people came up with innovative solutions to deal with the crisis. They put water to judicious use through innovative technologies and planning. We need something similar in India today," she said.

Bharti said that the "substantial" funds allotted to her ministry in the last two years will provide the impetus to achieve the target of cleansing major rivers and having clean water reserves.

"The budget for ground water conservation has been increased to Rs 6,000 crore. Last year, Rs 20,000 crore was allotted for 'Namami Gange Programme'. Through these funds and schemes we can make substantial changes in the next two years like installing ETPs (Effluent Treatment Plants) at various places.

"The government's focus and aim to cleanse our water reserves and rivers will have a positive long-term effect. Coupled with technology to expedite our efforts, India can be the world leader in water conservation," she added.

Earlier, Bharti awarded six children, who were picked as winners out of 14 lakh students from across India as part of a painting competition on water conservation, with cash prizes and certificates.

Bharti applauded the participating students for their "innovative ideas," and concern for water conservation and said they should spread awareness about the water crisis.

"The water crisis is not limited to India and in fact has become a global problem. Indian children should send this message to the world to save and conserve water.