Ministry of Jal Shakti

Namami Gange Signs Agreement With 49 Universities To Inspire Youth Towards Water Conservation & River Rejuvenation


Agreement To Bring Students To The Forefront Of Mass Movement For Creating A Sustainable Ecosystem Of Our Rivers

Effective Water Management Absolutely Essential: Union Jal Shakti Minister

Like Jan Bhagidari, today, we are moving Towards ‘Gyan Bhagidari’: DG, NMCG

Posted On: 12 APR 2023 7:48PM by PIB Delhi

The Union Minister for Jal Shakti, Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat today presided over the Namami Gange: Universities Connect event where an agreement was signed with 49 universities to foster awareness among the youth on water conservation in general and river rejuvenation in particular. The MoU aims to bring the student community to the forefront of the mass movement for creating a sustainable ecosystem of our rivers. Apart from seeking active public participation, the event will also be historical towards creating knowledge-based short-term programmes, training sessions, and fostering more research on the water sector. Through the NMCG initiative, many higher educational institutions pledged their support towards the cause of river rejuvenation and water conservation and create holistic platforms for younger generations to become conscious participants towards a sustainable ecosystem. The theme of the event was ‘Igniting Young Minds, Rejuvenating Rivers’.

Addressing the gathering, Union Minister for Jal Shakti, Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat asserted “water is not just an important factor or commodity but no life can be imagined without water and that makes effective water management absolutely essential”. Shri Shekhawat stated that ensuring cleanliness and purity of River Ganga with the rejuvenation of rivers are the prime objectives of the Namami Gange Mission. “Water is a crucial factor to sustain life. India’s cultural history saw water as the holiest source that sustains life in all forms, and over time that culture has eroded. We as a society have immense responsibility to revive that culture.” 

The Union Minister pointed out certain impacting factors on the development of children including parents, who, in the Indian tradition, used to talk about various aspects of life including nature, culture, country, duties etc. Teachers, he said, also play an important role in creating an impact on the children and, therefore, it becomes, imperative for the teachers to inculcate respect towards natural resources as per our traditional wisdom and practices through educational frameworks. The Union Minister said, likewise, celebrities, media, judiciary and other members of the civil society must come together and start discussing and debating issues related to our natural resources, especially water, to make India a water wise country. He suggested organising debates and other competitions in the universities to spread awareness on importance of water conservation and river rejuvenation and urged the leading educators to strive to make their campuses green and water efficient.

Shedding light on the fact that agriculture sector uses the bulk of India’s water resources, he said that demand side management is the need-of-the-hour. “The world is appreciating us and India has invested more than 240 billion dollars in the water sector but the challenge in front of us is also enormous and we must all play our part in contributing to conserve water and increase water use efficiency,” he said, adding, “We are not the owners of our natural resources but only custodians and it is everyone’s duty to return to the future generation as we inherited from our forefathers.”

He reiterated the importance of the 5Ps espoused by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to make such programmes successful including political will, public spending, partnership public participation and persuasion. He said that today nearly 50 universities are signing the MoU and it is not just 50 people joining hands but thousands who would eventually become part of this movement.

Delivering the keynote address, Shri G. Asok Kumar said that everyone knows the importance of water and what we are looking for with various collaborations is to spread the net far and wide to catch as many ambassadors of water and rivers as we can. “Water sector was not given the attention it deserves and viewed as just a water resource. This has changed with the vision of the Prime Minister, who has given a clarion call to make Jal Andolan a Jan Andolan,” DG, NMCG said, adding, “It is the younger generations that will be bearing the brunt of the water scarcity and therefore it is most necessary to ignite them to start respecting water, which was ingrained in our traditional values. We have to bring back the respect towards water and rivers, which is there in our Puranas and our traditional wisdom.”  

In the context of the collaboration between Namami Gange and academic institutions, DG, NMCG said that like Jan Bhagidari, today, we are moving forward in the direction of ‘Gyan Bhagidari’. He also drew similarities between the Jal Shakti and the power of the youth, both of which could go astray and wreak havoc if not channelized in a proper way.

DG, NMCG congratulated all the participants and dignitaries from the academia and urged them to take steps in the direction of bringing back the respect for water among the young students in their institutions. He also said that Jal Shakti Abhiyan: Catch the Rain: Where it Falls, When it Falls campaign launched by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi on the occasion of the World Water Day 2021 is a noble way of nudging people to conserve more water. “More than 4.7 million water harvesting structures were made as part of that campaign,” he noted,

DG, NMCG informed that Namami Gange has been recognised by the United Nations as one of the top ten World Restoration Flagship and said that India also participated in the UN World Water Conference 2023 which was organised at the UN Headquarters in New York after a gap of more than 40 years. “It was a rare privileged moment for us as people initially thought it was impossible to clean Ganga but a lot of success has been achieved in the mainstream of River Ganga evidenced in the form of improved water quality and thriving biodiversity, especially the Gangetic Dolphins. We were picked from among 170 countries around the globe The focus is now on the tributaries of Ganga.”

DG, NMCG said at the global stage programmes like Swachh Bharat Mission, Jal Jeevan Mission and Namami Gange, covering various aspects of the river rejuvenation, are being acknowledged. He said that India needs more social skills, technology solutions, and data management to make further strides in the water sector. 

He further said that a need to develop a worldwide network of universities is being felt and in that context, today marks a historic day in connecting with the important stakeholders to make Namami Gange a Jan Andolan – universities and students. He said that the MoU signing represents collaboration on areas in pursuit of academic excellence in the field of water quality, environmentally sustainable development to public outreach, and a step towards creating an enabling environment for the provisions of Arth Ganga. He concluded by saying that with Namami Gange Mission being a stellar success story, the lessons through its journey can now be incorporated towards cleaning other rivers of the country.

Additional Secretary and Mission Director, National Water Mission, Ms. Archana Varma emphasized on the fact that the younger generation is more aware and knows the importance of a sustainable earth and a lot can be learnt from them. She said that water is a precious gift of nature but it is a limited resource. “We have had a reverential and close connection with water and Indian culture for centuries has thrived because of that symbiotic relationship,” she said, adding, “3 out of 4 jobs in the world are related to water, and if water becomes scarce, there looms a threat of unemployment for the masses.” She emphasized the importance of dialogue and people’s participation to involve younger generations in the water sector.

She recalled a ‘Mann ki Baat’ address by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi in 2019 which became the basis of the ‘Catch the Rain: Where it Falls, When it Falls’ campaign and said that water has to become everyone’s business. She discussed the five goals of the National Water Mission – water data in public to mitigate impacts of climate change, partnerships with key players, spotting vulnerable areas, increasing water use efficiency, and integrating river basin management.

She pointed out the importance of more industry investment and startups to create more employment and educate the young generations regarding the untapped potential in the water sector. “We don’t have institutions of excellence in the water sector. We don’t have water auditors,” she said, adding, “There is a need for water departments in university spaces. This will help to establish an accelerated growth based development of the country wherein the water will be a very important dimension to it”.

Chairman, All India Council of Technical Education, Dr. T.G. Sitharam spoke about Ganga being a lifeline of the Indo-Gangetic belt. “India is not running out of water, rather water is running out of India”, he said. With India being a rainfall-rich country, we have the most significant issue of storage that needs to be resolved at the earliest. He noted the PM Shri Narendra Modi’s call for Amrit Sarovar that is proving to be the need-of-the-hour and can effectively address the issue of water storage in the country. He also noted that Catch the Rain, river rejuvenation, and rainwater harvesting are essential for India’s economic growth. The younger generation, especially students, could very well be the foot soldiers to spread more knowledge about water conservation in rural areas. “If we want India to be a 5 trillion economy, then our villages need to be self-sufficient”.

The MoU signing ceremony is the culmination of the monthly webinar series ‘Igniting Young Minds: Rejuvenating Rivers’ that was organised by NMCG with the leading educators including Chancellors, Vice-Chancellors, Deans or other academic decision-makers of the universities. The objective of the monthly webinars was to create awareness among the youth on the importance of river rejuvenation, conservation, cleanliness, agricultural practices, and water reuse. The Webinar series was a success with the active participation of academic leaders and students from top universities, creating a buzz within the community.

   The event – Namami Gange: Universities Connect – was organised by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) and APAC News Network in New Delhi. Shri G. Asok Kumar, Director General, NMCG, Ms. Archana Varma, Additional Secretary and Managing Director, National Water Mission (NWM), Dr. T.G. Sitharam, Chairman, All India Council of Technical Education (AICTE), Shri D.P. Mathuria, Executive Director (Technical), NMCG were also present on the occasion. Ms. Eunhee Jung, Founder and President, IVECA International Virtual Schooling also joined virtually from New York and made a presentation on ‘Global Citizenship Education for Clean Earth’.

 

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AS



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