Modi govt wakes up to water crisis, declares 10 districts scarcity-hit

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Ghandhinagar, March 27: Months after fierce clashes over water erupting across Gujarat, the government woke up to the gravity of the crisis and declared 10 districts with 3,918 villages scarcity-hit.

Revenue minister Anandiben Patel announced in the state assembly on Tuesday that the government surveyed 69 talukas in 10 districts and found that 939 villages were facing severe water scarcity while 2,979 were partially hit.

The affected districts are Kutch, Patan, Banaskantha, Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Jamnagar, Junagadh, Porbandar, Amreli and Bhavnagar. Saurashtra is the worst-hit as out of 3,918 villages, 3,745 are in this region alone.

Patel said that the government was making arrangements to provide water to the affected areas and employment under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act for farmers whose crops have failed.

She also said that government was providing fodder for cattle. Nearly 25 sheep died in Surendranagar district after consuming castor leaves. TOI had reported on March 26 about cattle deaths after eating castor as there was no fodder left in the district. Surendranagar received just 63% of its average annual rainfall but does not figure in the list of 10 drought-hit districts.

The minister said that according to the records submitted by collectors in these districts the kharif crop had failed.

On March 20, the Union agriculture ministry had declared 17 districts of Gujarat as drought-affected. Besides the 10 identified by the state, the Centre had declared Anand, Bharuch, Gandhinagar, Kheda, Mehsana, Surendranagar and Vadodara as drought-hit.

Leader of opposition Shankarsinh Vaghela alleged that not including these seven districts was a gross injustice to the people in those regions.

Water resources minister Babu Bokhiria said 361 villages were supplied water through 362 tankers earlier this month.

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