As the drought situation of the country is worsening, due to the slow progress of the southwest monsoon, President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday urged the country to focus on water conservation and management to tackle the situation.

While addressing a joint sitting of the Parliament, he said, “Over time, the traditional and effective practices of water conservation in our country have been disappearing. Houses have come up over ponds and lakes, and the vanishing water sources have accentuated the water crisis for the poor."

Terming the growing water crisis as the biggest challenge of the 21st century, he claimed that the situation is likely to worsen in the coming years due to the impact of climate change and global warming.

Human-induced warming reached 1°C above pre-industrial levels by 2017, and the latest United Nations (UN) - Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had warned that it may reach 1.5°C between 2030 and 2052 if temperatures continue to increase at the current rate. Recent studies have warned that this could lead to a severe water crisis in heavily populated countries like India.

He added that it’s the need of the hour for the nation to show seriousness towards water conservation like it was shown towards ‘Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan’.

At least eight states including Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Gujarat and Rajasthan are suffering under the drought conditions. He called the government’s decision to form the Ministry of Jal Shakti, a ‘decisive step’ which will have ‘far-reaching benefits’. He added that the government was fully conscious of the drought crisis in the country and stands by every citizen.

“With the support of state governments and Sarpanches at the village level, it is being ensured that farmers are assisted and the scarcity of drinking water is tackled," he said.

He then added that the government will be launching initiatives to clean up other rivers, apart from Ganga, including Kaveri, Periyar, Narmada, Yamuna, Mahanadi, and the Godavari in its current term. He also said that the campaign for the closure of drains releasing effluents in the river Ganga will be accelerated.