Despite 375 crore litres of Narmada water being provided for drinking purpose across Gujarat, there has been more than 15 per cent rise in the number of villages in the state that are being provided drinking water through tankers.
Between 2013 and 2017, Rs 105 crore have been spent in providing drinking water to 4,856 villages, as per the data tabled in the Assembly in September 2018.
Most of these villages are in the districts of Kutch, Banaskantha, Bharuch and Junagadh.
In 2013-14, the state government hired water tankers to provide water to 951 villages. The number of such villages rose to 1,289 in 2016-17. But in 2017-18, water through tankers was provided to 1,099. Despite the dip, there was over 15 per cent jump in the number of villages being served through water tankers in the last five years.
Notably, every year different districts topped the list of villages where water tankers were used.
For instance, in 2013-14, the highest number of villages using water tankers were in Kutch (223 villages) and Junagadh (191). But in 2014-15 Kutch with 204 villages and Bharuch with 80 topped the list. In 2015-16, Dahod and Kutch districts had most number of villages — 271 and 260, repsectively — where drinking water was supplied through tankers. In 2017-18, Banaskantha (427) and Kutch (209), however, topped the list.
Since last year’s deficient monsoon, the state government declared drought in 51 talukas.
In 2018, Gujarat received a rainfall of 637 mm which was way below the average rainfall of 831 mm. In 2017, the total rainfall stood at 908 mm, while in 2016 and 2015 it was 726 mm and 650 mm, respectively.
A week ago, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel had said that only 521 villages were being currently provided drinking water through tankers. He said this was in addition to 375 crore litres of Narmada water being provided for drinking purposes to 8,911 villages, 165 cities and six municipal corporations.
When asked about the spike in usage of water tankers in Gujarat, veteran BJP leader and former minister for Narmada, Dr Jay Narayan Vyas said: “A false sense of security has been created all these years about Narmada waters being made available. Even with the dam at the current height there are over 6000 villages and many urban areas that are still outside the reach of Narmada waters… With rapid urbanisation and increasing population, the drinking water crisis is going to get only severe.”
Briefing about the drinking water situation in Ahmedabad district, Principal Secretary Sunaina Tomar Thursday said that the three talukas of Viramgam, Detroj and Dhandhuka, which have been declared drought-hit in the district, will be provided water tankers and the cost has been finalised. “Tankers will be started as per need. In Salasar and Rangpur area of Dhanduka taluka, water supply through tankers will be started towards the end of May,” Tomar said.