Gujarat is one of India's most economically and
industrially developed state. But like other states it also
has to grapple with challenges faced in the water
supply scenario. Dr. Jaipal Singh,
Additional Secretary -
Water Supply, Gujarat speaks to Dhairya Ingle
the water supply scenario across the state.
The proposed budget for National Rural Drinking Water
Programme (NRDWP) in 2011-12 is more than 9000 crore - but
drinking water both qualitatively and quantitatively remains a
dream across large parts of rural India. Comment?
If you talk about drinking water in the rural areas in Gujarat, then there are
areas which have an acute water problem due to various reasons be it
lack of rainfall, drought conditions etc. The state government has come
up with a mega project due to which water is transported to the areas
marred with these problems. In last eight years, out of 18,000 villages
we have already covered 11,000 villages with over 2,200 km long
pipelines and also created 118,000 lines.
What are the main challenges facing water distribution via long
The major difficulty that we often come across in water distribution is
that the areas are scattered i.e. the arid areas like Kutch, remote areas of
Saurashtra are geographically scattered. Thus we face huge issues when
we design or implement any planned project of laying a pipeline. This
obviously increases the budget.In spite of huge water scarcity across India, except Tamil Nadu
water desalination projects have largely not been take-up.
Desalination can be a solution but it may not exactly solve all the
problems because it has its own limitations. The major problem is cost
of setting up a desalination plant - desalination is expensive than the
traditional ways of purifying water. The other problem with desalination
is discharge of wastewater. Since the water is full of chemicals therefore
we cannot release the wastewater in public.
What steps is the Gujarat Government taking to ensure proper
water distribution across the entire state?
In Gujarat, we have introduced schemes which ensure an even
distribution of water. As I mentioned earlier, we have created
infrastructure to transport water from one region to another. We have also
decentralized rain water harvesting and made provisions to get water
from the flood prone regions.
How does Gujarat curb theft of water?
Although Gujarat is a water scarce state, we do not face a problem of
water theft on a large scale. But we have set up a few committees to
ensure that this does not happen.
Since Gujarat has so many industries, how do you ensure proper
distribution of water between the industrial and the local sector?
We have allocated a proper ratio for distribution of water to the local and industrial sector. Even the rivers and the dam water are allocated with a
proper ratio. And the distribution takes place keeping in mind the ratio.
How do you think India as a whole can cope with the challenges of
There are four ways that can be followed for the entire nation:
(i). Balance water availability: Water availability all over India should be
balanced. Locally promote more water harvesting and water
(ii). Increase water availability: Provisions should be made to transport
water from the flood prone areas to the draught prone areas.
(iii).Recycle water: Recycling water is another step that can be taken. The water
which is just thrown away after all the cleaning and washing can be reused.
(iv).Water Purification: Purification not only means desalination but also
purifying it by other methods.
The ground water level has been decreasing constantly, what
measures can be taken to avoid the decrease in water level?
Local steps like rain water harvesting are necessary. Also building of
small dams in each village will help to conserve water. These were the
two steps that we had taken in Gujarat which worked out. Therefore,
Gujarat became the only state wherein the ground water level has risen
by three meters in last five years.