Rajya Sabha

June 26, 2019

Manas Bhunia speaks during a Short Duration Discussion on the challenges of water crisis in the country

Manas Bhunia speaks during a Short Duration Discussion on the challenges of water crisis in the country


Sir, today in this August House an issue has come up for discussion which is the need of the hour. Hon’ble Minister chaired a meeting and addressed a press conference on June 11 at Vigyan Bhavan after the analysis of the NITI Aayog Report on composite water management index, which came out in the month of June in 2018. There he observed, I read in the media, that a mission will be fixed within 2024 to make India free from water crisis. This is the government’s planning. 

He said, and the observation of NITI Aayog after starting with water investigation, drinking water department and rural development department, is that 18% of the household of India out of 19 lakh household throughout India spreading over all the States have only pipeline water at this moment. That means, 82% of the households do not have safe, pure pipeline drinking water at this moment in India.

He also stated a very serious observation. Per capita necessity of water supply has been reduced drastically. He cited one example – In the year 1950, the per capita supply was 5000 cubic meter but today in 2019 it came down to 1400 cubic meter at this moment in India. Such a serious situation.

So we stand throughout India with this deep crisis of water. Life is water and water is life. We are faced with two situations which have threatened the existence of human society, human life including animals; the Earth as a whole. 

Sir, I would like to talk about a very interesting point. NITI Aayog came up with an observation that 60 crore people are suffering with an acute crisis of drinking water out of 130 crore of the population of India. Sir, 75 per cent of India’s households do not have proper supply of water in their premises and 84 per cent of rural households do not have piped water access. Sir, it is very unfortunate to quote that India ranks 120 out of 122 countries. The people of India are facing such a horrible situation at the moment. We are grateful that you have allowed this discussion so that we can bring this to the notice of this government so that they can take serious steps and action immediately.

Sir, the most interesting chapter is India with its historical existence. We used to read in history that kings and nawabs, whoever was the ruler, used to go to dig big ponds and jhils to conserve water during rainy seasons and also for the connectivity of the rivers so that they can get more access to water. 

Sir, I am very happy to inform this August House that we in West Bengal under the leadership of Madam Mamata Banerjee, we have taken up a beautiful project Jal Dharo-Jal Bharo. Through this scheme we have already dug and excavated 2 lakh ponds to preserve more water in our different districts which are facing water crisis, particularly Bankura, Purulia, Medinipur, Birbhum, Bardhaman and other districts including the saline zone near the coastal areas. 

Sir, at this moment with the expenditure of Rs 1,451 crore and Rs 1,741 crore we are going to cater to 60 percent of the entire population of Bengal with pipeline water and pure water. Sir, after the completion of the projects within these few months we will be able to meet the demand and to confront the crisis in tune of 75 percent of the people of Bengal. 

So my appeal to the Central Government, through you Sir, is that the time has gone, it is too late and we have to start immediately. We can study the vision of the government academically but the reality is this; we are facing a reeling condition of the water crisis in India. 

Sir, most interesting, I have gone through a report published in The Times of India regarding a boy in the Marathwada region. A 10 year old boy named Siddharth Daage who has to travel 14 km by train from the Kundali railway station to Aurangabad to get two cans of water everyday. Such a pitiable situation.

It is not a question of Maharashtra, Kerala, or Bengal. This is a serious situation. So, my appeal to the government, through you, is that we should not waste a single moment by thinking, by preparing the papers, to prepare project report, to consider it to Finance department, Niti Aayog, and all these things. Let us start immediately from tomorrow and do what needs to be done.

I shall request the Hon’ble Minister to come out with a statement, make it an agenda of this government to address the seriousness of this problem of water crisis that the people of India are experiencing nowadays.