The Gujarat government on Monday said a majority of the dams in the state had either dried up or contained only a small amount of water due to scanty rainfall last year, but added that the volume of water in the Sardar Sarovar Dam was higher this year and would be sufficient to supply drinking water till the end of July to almost all parts of the state where other sources of water are unavailable.
Addressing a press conference here, Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel said that Chief Minister Vijay Rupani had called a review meeting of senior officers concerned on Tuesday to take stock of the availability of drinking water.
“Every day, 375 crore litre Narmada water is being provided for the purpose of drinking, in 8,911 villages, 165 cities and six municipal corporations,” Patel said.
However, 51 talukas have been declared as affected by water scarcity and relief works are on there, the deputy CM said. “Due to the Model Code of Conduct, some works have not been started and the state government has requested the Election Commission to permit work of such a nature.”
Patel said the water supply department had launched a 24-hour helpline number – 1916 – to speedily address drinking water shortage in rural areas.
“There is enough water in the Narmada (for Gujarat) this year. Compared to last year, we have got 1 million acre feet (MAF) more water,” Patel added. “Last year, we had to start drawing water to operate an irrigation bypass tunnel from February, whereas, in the current year, with April nearly ending, the water level in the Narmada dam is 119.50 metre, while the water storage is 0.93 MAF.
Stating that the situation “is better this year”, he said, “We are yet to receive an additional 0.35 million acre feet from Madhya Pradesh. Thus, there won’t be any problem of drinking water till July end.”
Patel also said that last year the Narmada Yojana had got around 55% of its average capacity whereas this year, it has got around 79% water. Last year, total 5.41 MAF Narmada water was utilised. And in the current year so far, 6.09 MAF water has already been utilised. Giving details of the utilised water, Patel said that 1.04 MAF water was used for drinking and domestic purposes, 1.80 MAF for Kharif irrigation, and 3.20 MAF was utilised for Rabi irrigation.
He added that the Gujarat government was providing water to 521 villages and hamlets through 361 water tankers which do a total of 1,581 trips every day. Also, 509 village ponds were filled with water under the Sujalam Sufalam scheme that provides drinking water for livestock in those villages.
“We used to supply 27 crore litres of water every day to Kutch district. Now, we will supply 32 crore litres every day through the Narmada canals,” Patel said. Some water pipeline schemes had been completed on a war footing, he added. “We have also planned to lay new pipelines for Porbandar and Patan districts.”.
Similarly, work was in progress on similar projects for Santalpur and Radhanpur regions of north Gujarat, which were likely to be concluded shortly, he added.