PARTS OF Amreli district were ravaged by flash flood last June following cloud burst. Dhari, Bagasra, Vadiya and Amreli talukas were the worst hit — around 50 people lost their lives, roads and bridges were washed away, along with soil. The district had received 31-inch rainfall which was 128 per cent of longtime average, but by summer, many talukas are facing severe drinking water shortage.
Nineteen villages in hilly Khambha, Dhari, Savarkundla, Rajula and Jafrabad talukas are witnessing drinking water crisis. “Either pipeline network has not reached these villages to supply drinking water, or they are on tail-end of networks where water is not reaching.
Consequently, we are supplying water through tankers to these villages,” said Jayantilal Thesia, resident additional collector of Amreli.
With a population of around 15,000, Dedan is the second largest village in Khambha. The taluka recorded 28 inch or 117 per cent of rainfall last monsoon. However, seven months later, ponds, wells and tubewells have hit rock-bottom and the village has been rendered dependent on three lakh litre of water being transported by 10 tankers every day.
“We have four public tubewells, but none of them has water. Three open wells provide only 20,000 litre water per day. Our minimum demand is three lakh litre per day,” said sarpanch Natu Rathod. There are three storage tanks in the village and a distribution network for supplying tap water.
The tankers bring water from three tubewells of a farmer in nearby Vangadhra village. But, Dedan is located on a hillock. The young sarpanch said it is difficult to strike water even at the depth of 700 feet. And dams, check-dams and ponds are limited due to topography of the area.
“Damagala pond, which is the biggest in the village is silted. Similar is the case of whatever check-dams we have. Recharging groundwater sources and bringing Narmada water is the only solution,” said Rathod.
While women to go nearby agricultural fields in search of water, they are also allowed to fill their pots from the three storage tanks, and unlike in Babarkot village of Jafrabad, Dalits face no discrimination here.
Champa Parmar, a Dalit woman, said they have not been subjected to any discrimination over the issue since they started getting tap water around 15 years ago. She has purchased a polymer tank with storage capacity of 500 litre and a cement tank of 200 litre capacity to store water for family and five cattle. Sometimes, they order private water tanker.
The tap supply for around an hour per week is not sufficient for bigger families like that of Dayabhai Chavda. His family has 15 members and a dozen cows, buffaloes and goats. “Thankfully, there is some water in the well of a farm on which I am working as a sharecropper. I bring water everyday in my bullock cart,” said the landless agricultural labourer. There is a 240-foot tubewell at his home but it has no water.
“None of the 57 villages of Khambha is getting Narmada water. An old scheme for supplying Narmada water to Khambha taluka is stuck in litigation. But, we have approved a new scheme for 50 villages of the taluka and tenders have been floated,” said Rashkmikant Patel, executive engineer of Gujarat Water Supply and Sewerage Board (GWSSB) in Amreli.
Patel said Mota Agariya and Bhakshi are also likely to get Narmada connectivity later this year. “However, Babarkot is a little difficult to cater as our pipeline alignment passes through forest area,” the executive engineer said.
Babra and Liliya talukas of the district received around 80 per cent of average rainfall, but Narmada pipelines have reached these talukas and therefore, the drinking water shortage is not that severe there, the officer said.