Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the Atal Bhujal Scheme for better management of groundwater on Wednesday to mark the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, reported PTI. Modi also named Himachal Pradesh’s Rohtang passageway as Atal Tunnel.
The scheme focuses on the need to use technology to prevent wastage of water. Modi urged start-ups to come up with technology to ensure minimal use of water for various needs, and asked farmers to crops that need less water while asking people not to waste the precious natural resource. Modi said farmers should be encouraged to shift from flood irrigation to drip irrigation, reported Hindustan Times. It is a method of micro-irrigation that releases small amounts of water at regular intervals at the roots of any crop. It is used extensively across the world for sugarcane and paddy.
The prime minister said the plan was to provide 15 crore rural households with piped water in the next five years. Currently, only three out of 18 crore rural households have access to clean and piped water.
The Union Cabinet approved the scheme on Tuesday. Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar said the total budget of the scheme will be Rs 6,000 crore, of which Rs 3,000 crore will be contributed by the World Bank. The scheme will benefit seven states – Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, said Javadekar.
The strategic tunnel below the Rohtang Pass, which has been named after Vajpayee, is nearing completion. “The foundation stone for the access road to the south portal of the tunnel was laid on May 26, 2002,” said the government.
The tunnel will provide all-weather connectivity to remote areas of Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh. It will reduce the distance between Manali and Leh by 46 km and save transportation costs. The 8.8-km tunnel is the world’s longest tunnel above an altitude of 3,000 metres.
Modi also unveiled a statue of Vajpayee at the Lok Bhawan in Lucknow and laid the foundation stone for the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Medical University.