NEW DELHI: With the water table dropping substantially in some parts of the country, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the government is constructing five lakh 'farming pools' even as he urged people to resort to water conservation methods like creating small reservoirs.
In his monthly radio programme 'Mann Ki Baat', he also asked the farming community to use less fertilizers and more modern technology, like the Farmers' App, for their benefit.
He spoke about India hosting the FIFA Under-17 World Cup football tournament next year and said it is a great opportunity for branding the country at the international level, for which immense awareness needs to be created within the nation.
During the 30-minute programme, Modi talked about how the government is developing all the five places associated with Dalit icon B R Ambedkar on the occasion of his 125th birth anniversary which falls on April 14.
Referring to the agriculture sector, he said water table is falling in parts of the country and said small reservoirs should be created to conserve the essential commodity.
He said the government, on its part, is constructing five lakh 'khet talab' ( farming pools) across the country.
Under MNREGA also, efforts are being made to conserve water, he said, as he pitched for a people's movement for saving water.
The Prime Minister's emphasis on building reservoirs comes against the backdrop of a substantial drop in the ground water table in parts of the country.
In western Maharashtra, the crisis has deepened and it recently triggered a law and order problem.
According to the Groundwater Surveys and Development Agency (GSDA), the water table level has dropped to 1 metre in about 540 villages across 13 talukas in Pune district.
Referring to sports, Modi said the FIFA Under-17 World Cup football tournament to be hosted by India next year is a big opportunity for branding the country internationally.
24 teams from across the world will participate in the tournament, he said.
"We can see (the enthusiasm) about cricket. The same has to be brought about in other sports. Football is an opportunity...I see a big opportunity for branding India at international level. I see an opportunity to make the world realise India's youth power," he said and sought suggestions from public about its logo, slogans, songs and souvenirs for the FIFA event.
Pitching for mass awareness, including at the village level, about next year's tournament, Modi said, "I want that every youth of this country becomes the ambassador of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup, 2017. Get involved in this. It is golden opportunity for the country's recognition."
He talked about the ongoing T-20 World Cup and said India has registered two significant victories and conveyed his best wishes for the match against Australia slated for tonight.
"A country with 65 per cent youth and losing out in the world of sports, it does not make sense. It is time for a new revolution in the field of sports. We can see that like cricket, there is growing interest towards football, hockey, tennis and kabaddi," he said.
The Prime Minister rued that India's standard in football has been falling over the last few decades after the country won gold medals in 1951 and 1962 Asian Games and stood fourth in the 1956 Olympic Games.
"Unfortunately, over the last few decades, we have been falling (in medals tally), falling and falling. Today, our ranking in FIFA is so low that I do not have the courage to talk about it," he said.
He said in run up to next year's FIFA tournament, efforts should be made to create enthusiasm and excitement among the youth for football, including at the village level.