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Saurashtra, north Gujarat face severe drought
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Thursday, March 29, 2001

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Saurashtra, north Gujarat face severe drought

AHMEDABAD, MARCH 28: Nature has dealt Gujarat a double blow. First it was the earthquake, now it's the drought. For the third consecutive year, almost all parts of Saurashtra and north Gujarat will face severe water scarcity. And with the summer just beginning, tankers are already supplying water to remote villages and tubewells are being dug at a feverish pitch.

In north Gujarat, severe water scarcity is being faced by Banaskantha, Sabarkantha and parts of Mehsana. While the tribal population of Sabarkantha draws water from hand-pumps, Banaskantha is desperately banking on the digging of fresh tubewells. Dharoi and Idar are the worst-hit in Sabarkantha.

But officials say they have made provisions to tackle the drought onslaught.

Says Rajendra Parmar, collector-in-charge of Sabarkantha: ``For the first time, we have used tankers to supply water. We will also concentrate on rejuvenating the ground resources to provide water.''

The situation in Banaskantha, however, isn't as grim as it is elsewhere. ``We have had a relatively good rainfall, improving the situation from last year's,'' claims District Collector M K Das. Banaskantha has an approved master-plan of Rs 5.25 crore.

Of the 1,224 villages in the district, 25 have been provided water by tankers, while in the others, 18-20 bores have been sunk to provide relief. ``Vav and Talata taluka have been the worst-affected and water will be provided by pipelines from medium-sized dams in the vicinity,'' adds Das. Saurashtra, Amreli, Surendranagar, Rajkot, Bhavnagar and Jamnagar will face a long dry summer in spite of the Mahi-Pariaj water pipeline fetching water pumped from the Narmada, which is strongly being projected as the saviour from the drought this year.

Every district collector of the drought-prone district today holds an approved copy of the master-plan, sanctioning authorities to go ahead with the relief activities.

``We have kept aside about Rs 1,200 crore to tackle the drought,'' claims Narottam Patel, state minister for water supply. ``We are getting about 1,200 cusecs of water from the Narmada and providing it through pipelines. In Vadodara, the Ajwa dam has been filled to solve the water problem,'' he adds. According to Patel, the pipeline from the Ajwa dam is to begin from Pariyej, Navda, Botad, Gadheda, Babra, Gondal, Bhavnagar and even Rajkot. Approximately 165 pipelines are to be laid to rejuvenate about 3,000 villages in the drought-prone areas of Saurashtra.

82 pipelines have already been laid. The Mahi pipeline is already supplying water to 1,400 villages, while about 2,000 villages are being supplied water by tankers. Water trains are to be pressed into service at Rajula in Amreli district, adds Patel.

``In Kutch, yet another Rs 1,200 crore plan has been tabled and tenders have been sought. Water will be provided via Mariya village through Sambhalyani, Bhachau and Bhuj, and extended upto Gandhidham. Within 15 months we intend to give Kutch a regular source of water,'' claims Patel.

The classification of the drought-prone areas, too, speaks of preparedness. About 20 villages have been identified as severely affected in Bhavnagar district. The district officials claim to have provided about 40 mld of water, while the rest is being supplied using tankers.

``We have pressed 325 tankers into service. We had experienced problems in Palitana and Mahuva. In Mahuva, where the dams have dried, we sunk borewells and provided relief. If this source of water dries up, we will provide water through the railways,'' explains Kanti Patel, district collector of Mahuva, for which a master-plan of Rs 14 crore has been approved.

Similar sentiments are expressed by the Rajkot district officials, who with Rs 49 crore in their kitty, claim to have identified the problem areas. They say about 452 villages have already begun getting water from the pipeline. ``The water has even gone to Gondal, which is one of the most problematic areas. About 3,820 tankers of water have already been sent to the affected villages,'' claims Additional Collector K D Kapadia.

But all said and done, it would be interesting to see whether the pipelines do succeed in providing the much required relief.

Copyright © 2001 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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