New Delhi: According to a press statement by the Ministry of Jal Shakti (Water Resources), on the second day of the India Water Impact Summit 2020, the focus was on “River Conservation Synchronised Human Settlement”. It was held on Friday, 11th December. River cities continue to expand and develop, creating an additional load for water extraction and pollution on rivers, said the Water Resources Ministry, adding that, therefore, any improvement in the river health cannot be achieved without first addressing the issues and drivers in urban areas.
Congratulating the National Mission for Clean Ganga for bringing together national and international experts for the 5th India Water Impact Summit (IWIS), NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant said that rivers, particularly in India, are a symbol of faith, hope, culture, and sanity, as well as a source of livelihood for millions. Emphasising community participation, he said, “Data and numbers are not sufficient, what is needed is a passion among people for rivers. Passion and people combined can make the administration work towards the river rejuvenation.” He also observed that the Namami Gange, with its multi-sectoral approach, has been successful in making a positive impact.
The 5th India Water Impact Summit is organised by the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG) and its think tank, Center for Ganga River Basin Management and Studies (cGanga). This year the event is organised virtually with the theme of Arth Ganga – River Synchronised Development.
Vinod Tare, founding head of cGanga, explained that river conservation and development are two sides of the same coin. Taking inspiration from the Prime Minister’s “Vocal for Local” campaign, Tare suggested that local water bodies should be managed by local people and should cater to local needs, adding that this will generate local employment and reduce the cost of transporting water.
Sharing NMCG’s vision to not only work towards making present river-cities sensitive towards rivers but also ensuring that these problems are not repeated as India continues to urbanise rapidly, Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, Director General, NMCG, said, “We are working to integrate ‘Urban River Planning’ and ‘Urban Water Management Plan’ in the city’s master plans and the new master plan for Delhi under preparation would be made river sensitive.” As it was International Mountains Day 2020, he spoke about the importance of mountains in the entire ecosystem including rivers, observing that most rivers originate from mountains.
The Water Ministry stated that Kees Bons, Deltares, Netherland, presented three major takeaways from their experience. These included ensuring that any new development or growth is sustainable and does not lead to another problem, following an integrated approach and nature-based solutions, and to keep planning technical infrastructural solutions.
The Jal Shakti Ministry revealed that cGanga recently signed an MOU with British Water to create a bridge for the UK industry to pair up with its Indian counterparts to build 21st-century infrastructure in the water and environment sector, adding that the UK is also becoming a major partner to help India tap into the global capital base to finance its green growth agenda. In a session on ‘Financing global water security and journey to COP-26, Gayatri Kumar, High Commissioner of India to the United Kingdom, said, “We are continuously engaging and encouraging UK investors to invest in India, particularly in the water sector.”
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