New Delhi: A few days ago, Chennai Metro (CMRL) started switching off air-conditioners in underground metro stations during non-peak hours. Reason? To deal with water scarcity. 

Luckily, the Modi government on Friday introduced a brand new ministry to address this problem. Yes, the Jal Shakti ministry is a new addition to cabinet. The new ministry is over and above the existing water resource ministry, which will be headed by Gajendra Singh Shekhawat and Rattan Lal Kataria will assist him.

What is Jal Shakti?

The Jal Shakti ministry is being established to ensure clean water and "top class irrigation water facilities for the farmers". Earlier the PM had said that the creation of this ministry would ensure optimal utilisation of water. 

The Modi 2.0 before coming to power made one thing clear that it realises the difference between water resources and ensuring the immediate need to address the issue of water scarcity in areas that have a genuine drinking water scarcity. 

Speaking about the significance of the ministry, earlier this April, Modi had said this move is to  "ensure clean water and top class irrigation water facilities for the farmers".

While the water resource ministry is tasked for "technical guidance, scrutiny, clearance and monitoring of the irrigation, flood control and multi-purpose projects", this new ministry will be particularly dedicated to providing drinking water. This ministry will be much focussed to address immediate water concerns than go on macro planning. 

Modi made this ministry a campaign issue

Speaking about Tamil Nadu, a state where drinking water is a matter of concern, Modi had promised during his campaign, "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." 

Tamil Nadu is a state that is embroiled in a water-fight with Karnataka for decades, in relation to Cauvery river. In fact, Modi reiterated his promise even in Odisha’s Sambalpur. A master of slogan coinage, Modi had coined the "nal se jal" slogan during the manifesto launch.

How serious is India's water scarcity?

India, particularly states like Maharashtra and Rajasthan have been the worst victims of water scarcity. The menace of water scarcity in India is expected to worsen as the overall population is expected to increase to 1.6 billion by the year 2050. 

As per the data published by the State Water Resources Department, this April, dams in Vidarbha region were left with just 5.41% live water storage compared to 31.34% live storage on the same day last year. 

India hasn't forgotten visuals of the water train that mobbed while ferrying to the parched Latur district of Maharashtra in 2016. Water in Latur was so scarce that officials had to impose prohibitory orders on gatherings of more than five people around the water storage tank. Narendra Modi hopes to undo such events with his Jal Shakti ministry.