Despite Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s claim that the Narmada Project waters have reached every nook and corner of the State, as many as 17 districts of Gujarat’s perennially drought-prone regions of Saurashtra, Kutch and north Gujarat are in the throes of severe water crisis.
As crucial summer months about to set in, several cities and urban areas of Saurashtra and Kutch regions are already facing acute water shortage. They get alternate days supply to only about two to three days supply in a week. This scenario persisted even when the ambitious Sardar Sarovar Narmada Project was still being conceived.
A number of traditional dams in Saurashtra and Kutch regions have either dried up or have water to last only a few days. These regions are completely dependent on the Narmada dam supply but the State government failed to complete the canal network of the dam to be able to feed these areas, according to official sources.
Even cities and districts like Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Bharuch, Anand, Kheda and capital Gandhinagar, which fall in the central Gujarat region, are facing water crisis. The situation found an echo in the Assembly on Tuesday when the Opposition Congress members created a ruckus for an hour and many walked into the well of the House raising slogans. Except Leader of the Opposition Shankersinh Vaghela and senior Congress member Mohansinh Rathwa, who stepped out earlier, all the Congress members were suspended for the day for raising their voice.
The water demand from Saurashtra region is likely to go up by 20 per cent. At present, it gets 850-900 million litres of water a day from the Narmada water canal.
Even in major cities like Rajkot, drinking water supply is an alternate day affair. The city, with a population of 14 lakh, depends completely on the Narmada dam supply but gets 20 minutes of supply every alternate day. The city needs 145 million litres a day (mld) and this is expected to go up to 170 mld by April. Its dams Aji and Nyari have dried up.
Ahmedabad, on the other hand, requires 840 mld. Though the municipal corporation claims to supply 1,060 mld, many areas depend entirely on water tankers.
It is worse in Porbandar and Amreli in Saurashtra. Amreli district gets just one hour supply and that too once a week or in 10 days.