By Sanjeev Kumar Singh Chauhan
New Delhi, Aug 23 (IANS) Union Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said on Friday that “Pakistan is needlessly crying hoarse over India’s decision to utilize our own share of water. It is India’s right; the Indus Water Treaty allows us to do so,” he told IANS.
Two days ago when Shekhawat said that India is expediting a plan to divert its share of water from flowing to Pakistan, the neighbouring country had reacted harshly, saying India is using “fifth generation warfare in Kashmir” where water is being used as a weapon.
Shekhwat said Pakistan cannot interfere in a matter which is purely an internal issue of India. “The steps being taken by the government do not break any treaty,” he said.
The Union Jal Shakti Minister said: “The plan (to divert river water) was chalked out during Union minister Nitin Gadkari’s tenure as water resources minister. Our priority is to execute the plan quickly so that farmers and people living nearby can avail of its benefit. The hydrological study is on and various agencies are giving the project a final shape. As per the Indus Water Treaty, India has complete rights over the Ravi, Beas and Sutlej.
The Minister said he would meet Water Resources Ministers of all states on August 26. “Availability of water tops Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s agenda. He is determined to bring tapwater to every house in the country. At present only 18 per cent of India’s rural population has access to tapwater. We firmly believe that by 2024, India would witness a sea change on this front,” he said, adding an exhaustive plan under ‘Nal se Jal’ (water from tap) has been envisaged and the meeting would discuss its execution,” said the Minister
Shekhawat said by next month, the government would also launch a mega drive against plastic items, including bottles. “As a responsible country, India remains dedicated to environmental norms. Considering the dangerous environmental impact of plastic material, we have no option but to say no to plastic. In my office we do not use plastic water bottles. The President and Prime Minister’s office also do not use plastic bottles. We feel that Modi ji’s message has to go across the country. I hope it would a success such as Swachh Bharat,” said Shekhwat.
The anti-plastic campaign is set to be launched from September 17, which is also the birthday of PM Modi.