The tedious ritual of Diwali cleaning was never so fun for 32-year-old Rekha Solanki as she enjoys the feel of water gushing out of a PVC pipe in her two-room home in Navinagri village, some 22 km away from Vadodara city. For over a decade since she married her husband Girish, who is a farm labourer, Rekha has had to walk about a kilometre to the adjoining Ghanshyampura village to draw water from a tubewell for the entire household — that’s five containers of 15 litres each.
But in the last four months, her life has changed as she now has her own tap connection with “flowing water”. “This water connection at home has come as a boon,” says Rekha with a smile. She is not alone. All the women around her are relieved and happy because the task of running around for water was typically the headache of the women in every household.
Navinagri and Ghanshyampura are among the 95 villages in the Waghodia taluka that now receive 100 per cent tap connectivity of surface water for drinking purposes. The entire district of Vadodara — a total of 660 villages — will soon see similar connectivity to surface water from the Narmada and the Mahisagar rivers that flow through the district.
The changes are part of an initiative to ensure every household in the district has doorstep tap connectivity and access to clean, surface water. A pet project of District Collector Shalini Agarwal, which has already won a national Skoch Excellence award, it aims to complete the shift from groundwater to surface water for the entire district by 2020, with over 50 per cent districts already receiving drinking water from surface resources since the implementation of the project.
Initially, water supply schemes in Vadodara were based on groundwater sources such as handpumps, open wells, tube-wells. With the development in agricultural, industrial, residential, commercial sector, the overall exploitation of groundwater and the use of pesticides along with decreased and uncertain rainfall led to an unsustainable situation.
“We saw that a Regional Water Supply Scheme based on surface source (Dam/River/Canal) for drinking purpose could be a sustainable source. We began a comprehensive implementation of an integrated drinking water supply project,” says Vadodara District Collector Shalini Agarwal.
Agarwal, who has played a crucial role in ensuring that the water department of the district receives clearances and permissions from all authorities concerned at war footing, says, “rural Vadodara was heavily dependent on groundwater for drinking purposes and we are all aware that groundwater is contaminated in many places … The district is surrounded by rivers like Narmada and Mahisagar and so it was only a matter of ensuring that we utilize these resources for drinking water. Our aim is to cover every village, every hamlet and every household under this scheme”. she says.
The project implementation involved planning to lay of water supply network in areas where homes had not seen tap water supply to date as well as the upgrade of old drinking water supply schemes.
Success rate till date
515 villages have 100% tap connectivity
53villages have 90 to 95 % tap connectivity
62villages have 75 to 90 % tap connectivity