Former Gujarat Chief Minister Sureshchandra Mehta on Tuesday claimed that the state government’s recently-concluded drive of deepening lakes and ponds would quench the thirst of only 10 per cent population. Addressing a press conference here today, Mehta said out of over one lakh lakes and ponds across the state, only 13,000 were covered under the month-long water conservation drive – Sujalam Sufalam Jal Abhiyan – which ended on May 31.
“In Gujarat, there are over one lakh ponds and over 200 lakes. Out of these, only 13,000 such water bodies were deepened by removing silt during the month-long drive. This is not enough, as it would only quench the thirst of 10 per cent population. What about others?” he asked. He was referring to the state-wide Jal Abhiyan, under which 13,000 lakes and ponds as well as 32 major rivers were deepened. The drive was aimed at increasing the water storage capacity by carrying out de-silting work.
The former CM also attacked the BJP-ruled state government over the construction of new farm ponds. “For 52 lakh farmers in the state, there are only 2.61 lakh farm ponds available. It shows that the government has not paid adequate attention to construct farm ponds, depriving farmers of getting irrigation water,” Mehta alleged.
Referring to various government documents and reports, he raised question on the effectiveness of the water conservation drive in providing potable water to a large rural population. “Of the total 18,715 villages in the state, around 55 per cent villages do not get pure drinking water. Will they get good quality water by just deepening 13,000 ponds?” Mehta asked.