Saurashtra, ignoring, or simply unaware of the fact that 61 villages in Kachchh and 149 villages in Saurashtra are listed as uninhabited (GOI, 1981, pp. 96-99). The planned number of beneficiary villages was apparently the result of a "study" by the Gujarat Water Supply and Sewerage Board (GWSSB) (NCA, 1991). Obviously, this "study" was cursory and slipshod, to say the least, its quality in keeping with the level of other planning seen for the drinking water component of the SSP!
The GWSSB report (GWSSB 1983) displayed a strong urban bias in the supply of drinking water. In an area where the population is approximately 70% rural, 63% of project beneficiaries were to be urban dwellers. Cities were supposed to receive over 80% of the total quantity of drinking water (GWSSB 1983: Appendices IIIA-IVC). Four major cities: Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Rajkot and Jamnagar accounted for over 40% or the total drinking water to be supplied for the SSP, and Ahmedabad and Vadodara alone accounted for over 25%. While the GWSSB report is now dated, the absence of any further data leads to the conclusion that the large urban centres in Gujarat are to be the true beneficiaries of drinking water.
A completely neglected aspect of the plan to "drought-proof" Kutch and Saurashtra is the question of livestock. Large parts of the population of Kachchh and Saurashtra are pastoralist. Families maintain large livestock herds, and the animals are an important economic and cultural resource. In every drought, people are forced to migrate with their livestock in search of water. The government has to set up cattle pounds to supply fodder and water.
No mention of actually supplying water to livestock is made anywhere in the drinking water plans, or indeed in all the SSP development plans in spite of the mention that cattle are supposed to be provided 30 LPCD. Cattle consume large quantities of water, and their needs have to be met if any degree of "drought-proofing" is sought.
It is difficult to estimate how many people are supposed to benefit from SSP drinking water in the absence of any plan. However, the bigger question is whether the numbers tossed out are supposed to represent even an approximation to project goals or whether it is merely a facade designed to silence legitimate criticism while diverting water to the politically powerful.