New Delhi: In keeping with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s poll promise of clean drinking water to all, Jal Shakti ministry has been introduced in the new Cabinet. It will be headed by Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, the MP from Jodhpur who defeated CM Ashok Gehlot’s son. (Also read: Portfolios Announced, Amit Shah Gets Home, Rajnath Defence)

This Ministry has come into being with the reorganisation of the earlier Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, which was held by Nitin Gadkari in
the previous government. In addition, the earlier Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has also been clubbed with it.

The ministry is a key project of PM Modi and during the interim budget of the NDA, the Centre had indicated that it would create a new ministry for Jal Shakti when it returned to power after the general elections.

Last month, at an election rally in Tamil Nadu, PM Modi had also assured the same. “After May 23, when the Modi Government will once again assume office, there will be a separate Ministry for Jal Shakti. This Ministry will cater to many aspects relating to water,” he had said.

“The NDA government had devoted a lot of attention to Water resources. There will be a separate ministry for Jal Shakti to ensure clean water and top class irrigation water facilities for the farmers,” he added. The BJP manifesto also promised a unified Ministry of Water to end the water woes in the country.

A ministry that focuses on drinking water as also for irrigation was the need of the hour, considering how from April to July every year, at least eight of the country’s states suffer from water paucity. The Centre has recently issued a drought advisory to Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Tamil Nadu, asking them to use water judiciously.

A NITI Aayog report also says that nearly 600 million Indians face “high to extreme water stress” while 75 per cent households do not have drinking water on their premises. About 2 lakh people die every year due to inadequate access to safe water.