Prime Minister Narendra Modi today launched a national plan involving an expenditure of Rs 6,000 crore to save groundwater. The Union Cabinet has already approved the Atal Bhujal Yojana. PM Modi launched the plan on the 95th birth anniversary of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
"The scheme will promote panchayat led ground water management and behavioural change with focus on demand side management. Groundwater contributes nearly 65 per cent of total irrigated area in the country," PM Modi said.
The plan will be implemented over a period of five years from 2020 to 2025. The scheme aims to improve groundwater management through community participation in some priority areas in seven states - Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
The scheme is expected to benefit some 8,350 gram panchayats in 78 districts in these states.
Earlier today, PM Modi in a tribute to Mr Vajpayee said the three-time PM's "silence held more power than his words". "Many good things can be said about the life of Atal ji... He knew when to speak and when to stay silent. That's amazing power," PM Modi said in a minute-long montage on Mr Vajpayee that he tweeted this morning.
"His silence held more power than his words," PM Modi said of the former prime minister who ruled the country for 13 days in 1996, 13 months in 1998 and for five years from 1999.
President Ram Nath Kovind and PM Modi along with other leaders also paid tribute to Mr Vajpayee at Atal Samadhi Sthal in central Delhi this morning. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Home Minister Amit Shah were among those who placed flowers as a mark of tribute.