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India calls upon Israel to innovate together for saving water

PTI

Tel Aviv

India has called upon Israel to “innovate together” to create a synergy for saving life and water to protect the planet, as it sought the country’s cooperation in dealing with water management issues.

Addressing a packed auditorium during discussions around India-Israel Strategic Partnership on water, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat outlined India’s issues around water management, and recognising Israel’s strengths in the field called upon “to think together, and to move ahead together”.

“I would like to say, let’s innovate together deflect a little from conventional thinking, and help each other to fight against all odds. Let’s come together to create a synergy for saving life, saving water, and in turn saving the planet”, the Jal Shakti minister said.

India is seeking Israel’s cooperation in dealing with water management issues and achieve Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious goal of providing tap water to every household by 2024.

“In my view, bilateral cooperation between Israel and India in the fields of water use efficiency, desalination, waste water and grey water reuse, pollution abatement, technological interventions etc. Would be of immense help to both our great nations”, he stressed.

Shekhawat asserted that water is one of the “focus areas of our government” as the level of threat associated with water scarcity is increasing every passing day.

Factors like climate change, population and pollution are putting a lot of pressure on water resources making management of our water a big challenge, he said.

“For India the challenge is even bigger as we are huge in number and Indian terrain is full of diversity. India is home to 18 per cent of the world’s population and 18 per cent of the world’s livestock population. But we have just 4 per cent of the freshwater resources of the world, the Indian minister noted.

Highlighting Modi’s plan to supply water to all households by 2024 under the Jal Jeevan mission, Shekhawat said that “such a mammoth task needs to be supported by suitable technological interventions which can overcome the problems of operation and maintenance”.

“This is an extremely ambitious goal as presently only about 18 percent of rural households have piped water supply”, he noted.

Given Israel’s expertise in desalination, the minister also alluded to possible cooperation in the field pointing out that India is also having over 7500 km of coast line with abundant availability of seawater.

“Desalinated water can be a boon for our coastal habitations and ameliorate the drinking water problem to a large extent”, he emphasised.

Israel’s Minister of Energy, Yuval Steinitz, who is also responsible for Water Resources, said that the relations between India and Israel “had reached a new level of cooperation” which is “better than ever” and cooperation in the field of water management could help it grow further.

“India and Israel have special and unique relations for two and a half decades which includes also a very fruitful and successful collaboration in defence, in the field of missile defence, air defence, intelligence and so on and so forth…I am confident that as we start a new chapter with water, we will be able to establish a fruitful and successful collaboration exactly the way we have done in defence”, Steinitz said.

The Israeli Minister said that pioneers of Israel realised right from the beginning that with two-thirds of the country being desert, they had to work on water management.

Steinitz highlighted the huge success achieved by his country in the field with 80 per cent of its water needs fulfilled through desalination. He also emphasised that almost 90 per cent of the sewage water in Israel is treated, purified and recycled which provides immense help also to the agriculturalists”.

Israel has made water recycling an integral part of daily life.

Shekhawat, who is on a three day visit to Israel between November 17 and 19, had a closed door discussion on Monday morning with Steinitz and will be separately holding discussions with with leading experts in the field of water management, some identified Israeli companies active in the field and other relevant stake-holders.

The Jal Shakti minister will also be the keynote speaker for the prestigious biennial WATEC event on Tuesday. The Union Cabinet Minister is being accompanied by a large delegation from the states of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Punjab and Delhi.

A large number of Indian businessmen have also joined Shekhawat in these events, and would be separately exploring opportunities of collaboration with potential Israeli partners.

Singh will met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday.

Five key areas have been identified for in-depth discussion during the Indian minister’s visit which includes his personal participation in many of the presentations.

Wastewater treatment, recycle and reuse; water use efficiency; water – assessment, measurement and management with focus on technology to monitor ‘’functionality’’ of tap connection; ground water assessment and recharge; drinking water and desalination are some of the key areas identified for possible collaboration, informed sources said.

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