The State Governments on their part fulfill such responsibilities through state level functional authorities or the local bodies. The Ministry of Urban Affairs of the Government of India, formed in 1985, was set up to Over last few decades, there has been a paradigm shift in water management as the perception that freshwater is a free and abundant resource has changed to that of water being an economic good in scarce supply, threatened by pollution and warranting efficient use. The challenge of sustainable water use is particularly daunting for fast-developing states like Gujarat grappling with increasing population and industrial activity, drought prone regions and the need to enhance standards of living and economic growth.
Gujarat is characterized by variations in the topography and wide variations in annual rainfall. Three fourth of the area of the State is unsuitable for ground water withdrawal due to rocky terrain and coastal region. Further, the supply of surface water is limited and thus the State has a long recorded history of droughts. The rainfall pattern in Gujarat is erratic and uneven which leads to imbalances in distribution of water in different regions. Gujarat at present has only 2% of the country’s water resources with 5% of the country’s population.
The total water availability in the state is 50 BCM, of which surface water accounts for 38 BCM and ground water accounts for the balance 12 BCM. Of the 38 BCM of surface water, more than 80% is being used for irrigation purposes, leaving limited supply for drinking and industrial uses, which are therefore, largely dependent on ground water.
The state can be divided into four distinct units on the basis of water resources endowment namely Kutchh, North Gujarat, South & Central Gujarat and Saurashtra. Kutchh is an arid zone, with scanty rainfall and no perennial rivers. North Gujarat area has rechargeable aquifer but rainfall in this region is very less while ground withdrawal is very high due to excessive irrigation and industrial water demand, leading to the depletion of ground water table. South and Central Gujarat are heavily agricultural and industrial areas, the over use of chemical fertilizer and industrial waste has polluted the ground water; the region near coast is also contaminated because of salinity ingresses. Saurashtra region comprises of rocky formation, it has very low recharging capacity, so ground water replenishment is very low. While North Gujarat, Saurashtra and Kutchh constitute 71% of total geographical area of the State, they account for less than 30% of the water resources. Further, more than 40% rainwater flows into the sea as run off every year due to absence of water conservation structures.The regional imbalances are reflected in the per capita water availability levels also. South and Central Gujarat region’s per capita availability is almost double of the aggregate availability of North Gujarat,Saurashtra and Kutchh region.
With increasing population and economic growth, water demand is likely to pick up considerably in the future. The agricultural consumption in the total demand, resulting in relatively reduced availability for domestic and industrial uses. This should pose a large challenge for Gujarat’s water sector planning, considering the growing urbanization and industrialisation trends of the State.
Gujarat has made serious efforts in all the important areas of water sector such as source augmentation, source management and distribution management through reduction of dependence on the scarce ground water resources. This has been achieved through water grid and master planning and implementation of several schemes under Saradar Sarovar project, Sujalam Sufalam Yojana and multivillage rural water supply schemes.
In some others, the efforts are being made but there are significant demand - supply gaps or lack of desired levels of progress. These are regulation of water sourcing and distribution, water quality improvement, improvement in quantum of water available in rural areas and community participation in water management.
As these issues would become of prime importance in the coming years and with increased pressures of performance and investments in the sector, some of the areas would need a much higher level of attention. These areas of improvement are tariff rationalisation, reduction in water distribution losses, sector reforms and preparedness for private sector participation.
Therefore GIDB has drafted Vision documents BG:2020 including Water Sector to facilitate the state government to plan future water infrastructure requirement to address above issues.
The Vision for the drinking water sector in Gujarat is as follows:
- To ensure safe reliable and affordable drinking water for all, and provide stable water supply for agriculture through a pan Gujarat water grid and efficient irrigation systems
- To create systems and policies towards effective, efficient and sustainable use of water in order to reduce poverty, improve human health and promote economic development.
- To ensure that water supply services are provided by effective, efficient and sustainable institutions that are accountable and responsive to those whom they serve.
- To ensure that water is managed in an environmentally responsible and sustainable manner.
Strategy for achieving the vision in the Water sector
- Resource management
- Financial sustainability of investments and enhance scope for PPP
- Strong institutional and policy environment
- System improvements through technology advancement and information management
The proposed vision and strategies would need to be translated into various detailed policies, programs and schemes backed by strong implementation mechanisms. Most of the aspects are already covered under various projects already planned or being implemented by the Government of Gujarat. These projects and the corresponding benefits and implementation status have been discussed in the Vision 2020 documents prepared by GIDB.