National water policy A futile exercise


Water riots breakout in Gujarat
Bustards under threat
Disappearing lakes and ponds


Delhi prepares to catch rain
Watering schools
Ready to take action
Gokak goes green
Journalist's meet


Easy steps to catch rain


Sankat Mochan Mandir
A role model in the making


Water suficient
Municipal water bonds
Active campaigner


Water crusader


Kata system


A water conscious city
Ghana's privatisation woes


Vilasrao Salunke


Glimpses of book


Conference call





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Vol. 4                                         No.2                                  April 2002

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Water riots breakout in Gujarat

Water scarcity and violent water riots now haunt us every year with the onset of summers. This situation exists in almost every part of India. Reports from the states of Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and Rajasthan indicate that this year too, a nation wide crisis is brewing. Every year the government release a huge amount of funds under the drought relief programs to initiate short-term measures, in a bid to appease the people, instead of working towards a long-term solution.

Even as Gujarat reels under the devastating impacts of violent communal riots, stage is being prepared for another catastrophe – acute water scarcity. As many as nine districts are badly hit – Rajkot, Bhavnagar, Amreli, Jamnagar, Junagadh, Banaskantha, Patan, Mehsana, and Panchmahal. People of Amreli are currently being given water after a gap of every 12 days, whereas in Jamnagar and Junagadh the waiting period is four days.

Protest demonstrations are being frequently reported from these places. In Amreli, Manavadar, Rajkot and Junagadh the women staging a dharna (a form of public protest) raised the demands for adequate supply of water. In Dhoraji, the nagarpalika’s office was gheraoed for more water. In Jamnagar, 288 out of 675 villages are supplied water through tankers but the situation is worsening, as 85 per cent of the region’s reservoirs are dry. The groundwater tables are depleting rapidly, making it difficult for the local authorities even to distribute water through tankers.

Last year, Rajkot’s civic bodies had spent Rs 1.25 crores for supplying water through tankers. Since January 2002, they have already spent almost Rs 12 to 15 lakh per month to supply water.

Chief minister, Narendra Modi’s promise to provide Narmada water to Rajkot for 22 days a month from Maliya canal has not become a reality. Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC) neither has enough storage facility nor has the facility to filter large quantities of canal water. However, the RMC and the local people are still expecting the supply of Narmada water to begin soon. Not only a number of tap connections have been sanctioned but a proposal to double the water tax has been okayed as well. (see box: Water tax doubled)

Water tax doubled

On March 27, the standing committee of Rajkot Municipal Corporation gave its sanction to double the water tax charged from the people of Rajkot city. In other words, the residents who used to pay Rs 240 would now have to pay Rs 480. The increase is the direct result of the cost of supplying Narmada water through Maliya canal.

According to the officials, no one has opposed this proposed raise, as it ensures them regular supply of water. According to the Times News Network (TNN) reports, the water works department of RMC is ready to give 70 out of 94 households the tap connections. It says, "As soon the announcement was made about accepting money for the tap connections, there was a mad rush and four additional windows had to be opened by the civic authorities."

Only state officials can solve the mystery of how taps are going to regularly supply water, when there is no water to supply.

Tankers and schemes to install tap connections or digging new borewells are only temporary relief measures. According to a study done by Sandipani Institute of Economic Research (SIER), Rajkot city has a huge potential for rainwater harvesting and borewell recharging. R C Popat, the director of RMC, draws our attention to two significant facts:

dot.gif (88 bytes) During the last four decades from 1961 to 2001, the city has received an average or good rainfall for only 18 years. For rest of the time they have been surviving on the borrowed water. The three main sources of water – the Aji, Nyari and Bhadar dams – could only supply eight million litres per day (MLD) of water as against the current demand of 137.18 MLD, which is expected to go up to 243.31 MLD by year 2021.

dot.gif (88 bytes) About 70 per cent of the houses in the city have domestic bores. If these bores are recharged, the water table could come up by three to four meters every year, thus meeting the drinking water needs of the entire household throughout the year. However, only 8,760 out of 88,000 houses have adopted rainwater harvesting in the city.

Thus, the people of Rajkot have no other option but to go for rainwater harvesting, if they want to enjoy a wetter future. They can seek inspiration from the people of Chennai, who have learnt the art of catching and managing rainwater, intelligently. The results are phenomenal.

Tamil Nadu’s Metrowater board has stepped up water supply this summer, as a part of their efforts to maintain the normal supply. It has been supplying 400 MLD of water to the city, whereas last year it was not even able to meet half of the city’s demands. "This change is the result of effectively harvesting and managing rainwater", says Jaylalitha, the chief minister of Tamil Nadu.

Copyright CSE  Centre for Science and Environment