GANDHINAGAR: If you think the water crisis that the state is struggling is temporary, you’re wrong. The state government’s own projections reflect that Gujarat is likely to face chronic water scarcity in two or three years.
According to estimates, Gujarat’s present per capita water availability is less than 990 cubic metres (m3) per annum which is already considered a state of chronic water scarcity by UN standards. It is estimated to drop to 738 m3 per annum by 2015, and 601m3 per annum by 2025.
At present, per capita water availability in North Gujarat, Saurashtra, Kutch, along with South and Central Gujarat is 343, 540, 730 and 1,880 m3 per annum respectively (according to 2001 estimates).
With 5.96% of the total area of the country and 4.93% of the total population, Gujarat has only 2.28% of the total surface water resources available in India, despite having 185 rivers, including three perennial ones, run through the state.
For planning of any water supply project, average water consumption per person in urban areas is assumed to be 140 litres per day against 50 litres in rural areas. The rapid urbanization of the state will swell demand for water manifold.
The state has fresh water availability of about 1,137 m3 per annum per person, against the national average of about 2,000 m3 per annum per person. Add to this the scaring regional disparity as Saurashtra, Kutch and north Gujarat have little water as compared to the central and southern parts of the state.
The quality of drinking water is also a major issue. The Central water resources department has identified 18 districts where fluoride in groundwater is above desirable levels. These are Ahmedabad, Amreli, Anand, Banaskantha, Bharuch, Bhavnagar, Dahod, Junagadh, Kutch, Mehsana, Narmada, Panchmahal, Patan, Rajkot, Sabarkantha, Surat, Surendranagar and Vadodara.
An official involved in managing water resources said, “Gujarat needs to do long-term planning for managing available water resources and also focus on developing other resources. The state’s overdependence on Narmada water is risky. Gujarat’s water policy, which is yet to be brought out, may address these issues.”