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Apr 13, 2013 at 09:08am IST

Water shortage plagues Gujarat even before peak summer sets in

Ahmedabad: Through this summer, CNN-IBN will focus on the acute water shortage that is gripping large parts of the country. In areas like North Gujarat, where those who were promised water from the Narmada canals are still waiting for relief.

Even as Chief Minister Narendra Modi talks of his Gujarat model of governance across the nation, back in the state, even before the summer has set in, water shortage is so acute that people are digging in search of water. The desperation of the people from Sami in North Gujarat questions the government's commitment to provide safe drinking water with people being forced to consume water that's not fit to drink.

Bhartiben, a resident of Sami said, "Nobody comes to see these long lines for water. We have to dig pits to remove water. It's been three months. Why is the government not watching?" "Even animals can't drink this water we have to," said another resident. drink it

The Gujarat government has declared 4,000 villages drought-hit, but in reality, as many as 17 districts - mainly in Saurashtra and North Gujarat - are now facing drought-like conditions. Several cities in these regions get water just once a week, even once a fortnight. Sami Sarpanch Kalubhai said, "Earlier we got piped water, but it has stopped. People in their helplessness are digging up pits to fetch water."

Ironically, hundreds of villagers of the region had surrendered their land for the Narmada canal network poject and the Sujalam Sufalam project, but are yet to get the promised piped water. Nitin Patel, Gujarat government spokesperson, said, "Some regions of North Gujarat have been covered under the Narmada network. The Sujalam Sufalam project is being implemented too. But there are still villages that have to rely on rainfall."

But its not just North Gujarat, Saurashtra too is running dry. For the residents of Amreli, the search for water has become routine. Alka Desai, Amreli resident, said, "People say that Modi sahib will ensure that there will be water, but by when?"

Rural Amreli too depends only on the monsoon. Borewells are dry and the Narmada canals are nowhere in sight. The situation will only get worse as the summer advances. It is perhaps time for Modi to tackle the water crisis with the decisiveness that he has made his calling card.