Water and erratic power supply have afflicted Gujarat over the years. A prosperous state, home to India’s Prime Minister, ought to do more to manage water resources efficiently.
A recent article by Amitava Bhattacharyya published in TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute) presents a situational analysis of drinking water security in the state while outlining the government’s initiatives to do more on this count.
According to Bhattacharyya’s analysis, there is not enough fresh water available for every person in Gujarat, where there is only 1137 m3 per person. There is a shortage of potable water in many parts of the state, particularly in Kachchh, Saurashtra, and North Gujarat.
While there has been significant economic and agricultural growth in recent years thanks to an assured water supply, there are still concerns about an inconsistent water supply in the outlying rural communities.
Despite efforts to augment resources, the state’s geology, rapidly increasing population, and rapid industrialisation continue to cause problems with an adequate water supply.
According to estimates, the amount of water available for domestic and drinking purposes that is allocated to rural areas is comparatively small. Despite making up roughly 65% of the total population, 42% of the domestic water supply is used by the rural population.
It’s estimated that more than 50% of villages experience a shortage of sufficient drinkable water during the summer months of drought years, which are common in Gujarat.
Numerous institutions and organisations, including Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL), Gujarat Water Supply and Sewerage Board (GWSSB), Gujarat Jalseva Training Institute (GJTI), Gujarat Water Infrastructure Limited (GWIL), Gujarat Water Resource Development Center (GWRDC), Water and Sanitation Management Organisation (WASMO), and Gujarat Infrastructure Development Board (GIDB), are responsible to ensure that enough safe and reasonably priced potable water is provided to the rural population.
So, what are the government’s initiatives to secure drinking water?
Narmada Master Plan
With the help of a State Wide Drinking Water Grid, which serves about 75% of the state’s population, a project to supply drinking water from the Narmada Canal had been initiated. Together, GWSSB and Gujarat Water Infrastructure Ltd (GWIL) are carrying out the Narmada Master Plan, which is meant to encompass 173 towns and 9490 villages in Gujarat.
Har Ghar Jal
During his Independence Day speech to the nation on August 15, 2019, the Prime Minister declared the Jal Jeevan Mission – Har Ghar Jal. By 2024, the Mission, which is being carried out in collaboration with the states, seeks to provide every village home with a Functional Household Tap Connection (FHTC). With FHTC, it is anticipated that every household will have regular, long-term access to a potable water supply in an adequate quantity (at least 55 lpcd) of the prescribed quality.
Gujarat was named a Har Ghar Jal state in October 2022, guaranteeing that no one is left out by providing clean drinking water from faucets to all rural households.
Atal Bhujal Yojana
The Prime Minister of India introduced the Atal Bhujal Yojana, also known as the Atal Jal scheme, in 2020 with the main goals of improving the institutional framework for community-based participatory groundwater management and enacting behavioural changes at the local level to improve the nation’s groundwater resource management. The plan aims to accomplish this through various interventions, including capacity building, awareness campaigns, merging existing and new programmes, and advanced agricultural techniques.
Better than most
As a leader among the states, Gujarat was the first to establish micro- and macro-level plans for guaranteeing the availability and quality of household consumption water in particular and drinking water in general over the past 20 years. As a result, even in the arid regions of Kachchh, Saurashtra, and Northern Gujarat, “no source” villages have been completely eradicated.
Nonetheless, there are still certain water quality problems, particularly water from underground sources, such as salinity, excessive fluoride, and sporadic arsenic exposure. Still, the situation is far better than in most of India’s states, the article notes.
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