June 15, 2003
Non-Sustainable Development –GUJARAT
at the number four among all states of India in its growth percentage
at present and number one in its urbanized population percentage,
Gujarat has depleted at least 28% of its underground water, largely
because of its non-sustainable development policy, according to a
conclusion drawn by a new study released by the Ahmedabad based Centre
for Development Alternatives (CDA).
Scholar Indira Hirway of CDA has asserted that last two decades of
development in the state has left much to be desired ? because of the
faulty water distribution management, chaotic urbanization and
degradation of environmental resources. In one sentence it can be
called the consequence of a ?non-sustainable development? policy!
Substantiating the conclusions, the 40-page paper says that growth
rate in Gujarat of ?80s was 5% and in the ?90s it was 6.5%, but at the
same time its agrarian growth in both the decades fell to less than
1%! This was exactly what happened in quite a few developing countries
which followed a policy lacking sustainable development. Urbanization
process in the state stood at 38% - quite higher than an all India
average of 25%.
Despite all of Gujarat?s hallowed tradition of keeping tight account
of every single source,
politicians here displayed a callous policy of not accounting for such
a heavy depletion and degradation of its environmental resources,
Waters of its seven South and Central Gujarat rivers including its
rich Narmada and Mahi, flowing into the Bay of Khambhat all the twelve
months, unlike the dry rivers of Saurashtra and Kutch, carry so much
industrial pollution that the state government?s huge Rs 47,000 crore
Kalpasar sweet water lake and a Highway across the Bay project
officials feel failed to make those waters original sweet- devoid of
At least 50% of its 18,000 villages face a terminal scarcity of
drinking water, with 4000 of them getting water through the government
hired tankers- that fetch water to these villages from long distance
at most irregular intervals, leaving the village folk women walking
far away here and there to get a bucket of water under 43-46 degree
Celsius hot sun!
The study reminds the state policy makers that only 3 to 5 percent of
the total water supply go for domestic and drinking purpose and only
5-6% of the state?s total revenue income is spent on water supply. But
a total of 87% of underground water source has turned into ?non-white?
? making it most unsafe for drinking. All the underground water in at
least two districts-
North Gujarat and Amreli- have become fluoride infected, causing
various diseases rampant in these areas. Politically, both the
Congress and BJP rulers have displayed criminal negligence of
following a correct and far sighted policy for the last two decades.
Administratively, the state formed its water supply and sewerage board
long ago to supply water, heavily subsidized or free to all ! No
grassroots rural or urban people?s cooperation was sought, no water
conservation, recycling or recharging was attempted for many years.
Whatever they have begun now appears quite half-hearted in this field.
Urban area has most unequal kind of distribution of their scarce
resources: a few high-rise complexes in the cities like Ahmedabad or
Vadodara or Surat get 24-hour non-restricted water through their
private tube wells, while large areas of these cities suffer severe
crunch, rationing or irregular supply.
A thriving trade worth thousands of crores of rupees in water pouches,
bottles has developed, with much of its quality in question. Welfare
supply by the government and non-existence of people?s participation
in conserving or recharging the rain water has cost the government a
lot of amount. According to the estimates put by this study, no less
than Rs 1 lakh 20 thousand crore of cost was incurred by the
government within last two decades behind such a welfare supply.
Nobody was surprised by a recent declaration made by the water supply
minister Narottam Patel that Gujarat river water supply schemes had no
more than just 3-month supply of drinking water at present. It remains
anybody?s guess what the people would do after three months if rains
fail to quench their thirst this year!