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Over 2,000 villages to go thirsty in state
GANDHINAGAR: Even as the state government has prepared a master plan to deal with the drinking water crisis, more than 2,000 villages of Saurashtra, north Gujarat and Panchmahals will face a drinking water shortage this summer.

The worst-affected districts include Rajkot, Bhavnagar, Amreli and Jamnagar in the Saurashtra region and Banaskantha, Patan and Mehsana in north Gujarat.

State water supply minister Narottam Patel told TNN that although the water supply position has improved in these districts in the last two years, some of the interior villages would have to be supplied water by tankers. And more than 800 villages of these regions have been identified as critical and the district authorities have made arrangements for supply of drinking water mainly in Bhavnagar, Amreli, Jamnagar and Rajkot.

He said in north Gujarat districts the ground water level has dropped and content of fluoride in water has increased alarmingly, posing health hazards in several villages of Patan and Banskanatha. The position in Mehsana is equally bad and potable water would have to be supplied to the villages there.

He said the government has laid two major pipelines from Mahi and Narmada to supply drinking water to the semi-arid districts in Saurashtra. Patel said the water supply department could provide more water if Rajkot Municipal corporation developed the city's internal pipe line network.

Jamnagar requires at least 50 MLD of water and the government has made plans to divert 20 MLD from various irrigation schemes. The remaining 25 MLD would be provided by drawing water from tubewells. "Despite huge amounts spent, drinking water crisis will continue to loom large for another couple of years as problem of saline water ingress, coupled with the drop in ground water, poses serious problems," he said.

The government has so far spent more than Rs 3,000 crore on laying two major pipelines for Saurashtra. He said it would solve the drinking water problem of more than 3500 villages.

Patel said the government has plans to cover around 8,215 villages through pipeline projects based on the Narmada project. He said Rs 8,500 crore will be spent on these projects in the next two to three years.

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