The state of Gujarat, known as the developed state in developing India, is now moving towards leadership in knowledge economy, a kind of first in India, based on the strong roadmap of innovation and sustainability. The development is the prime focus, based on skill development, knowledge sharing and networking. The recently held edition of the Vibrant Gujarat event, was transformational and revolutionary – both in its coverage and scale. It provided a platform for businesses from various states of India as well as other countries to cooperate and explore attractive business opportunities.
As has been the case during earlier editions, giants of Indian industry and business lined up massive investment plans/ initiatives some of which are as follows:
- Gujarat Venture Finance Limited announced USD 1billion (INR 6000 cr) fund meant exclusively for Japanese venture in Gujarat
- Indian Oil announced that it was going to build a INR 30,000 crore refinery at Mundra in Gujarat with 15 million tones annual refining capacity
- Anil Ambani Group announced that it would be investing INR 150 crore for nutraceuticals plant at Halol
- Sanghi Industries came out with a plan to invest INR 250 crore to raise cement production besides buying ships
- Astral group announced that it was going to invest INR 30 crore on a plant to manufacture CPVC fire sprinkler pipes
- Buffett’s Lubrizol was one of the many foreign ventures deciding to invest in the state. It would be pumping in USD 50 million in its project in Dahej
- IFC group announced an investment of USD 30 million in food additives maker Lucid Colloids in the state
- GAIL announced its plan to invest INR 2,600 Crore in a tyre rubber plant
The above data is just for reference. We all know about the success of vibrant Gujarat from last seven years. The list of success is big and boasts of most of the biggies of corporate India. Governance Today is focusing on another fact of success of Gujarat which has gone virtually unsung in the popular media, which has only picked up controversies about the same. The project is Sardar Sarovar Dam. It has been in news primarily because of the numerous agitations supported by celebrities. If you remember, the first initiative taken by PM Modi after he took oath as the Chief Minister of the state
was to increase the height of DAM. Sardar Sarover Dam, on completion will be the second largest concrete gravity Dam by its volume and worlds third highest spillway discharging capacity. The benefits that the state has generated for itself from this dam is a testimony to the fact that water can be a very crucial element in the industrial growth of any state.
Since the beginning of time, water resources have been critical to the development of mankind, for almost all civilizations. Management of water bodies has been the bedrock of all major civilizations’ success. In India, it has been realized very late. Even when it is realized, the work on the same always falls because of petty politics. Gujarat has been the exception to the rule. It has interlinked almost 20 rivers and the results have been very good for the state. In this endeavor, Gujarat has followed the idea of former Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee, who had mooted the river interlinking idea on a national level.
Water Management Through Innovative Means
Every business has a water demand that grows day by day due to the rapid pace of development. Agriculture and manufacturing compete for water supply with urban and rural residential development, as well as with environment protection groups. Gujarat was historically never associated with being water surplus; almost 70 per cent of the state’s fresh water resources are concentrated in 30 per cent of the state’s area. Uncertain rainfall and lack of major rivers flowing across the state has forced the Government of Gujarat to take a string of innovative steps for optimum utilization and minimal wastage of the state’s water resources. And for this the Government of the state came up with what it calls the 5C model. The acronyms stand for, Collection of river water, Connect rivers, Channelize water, Control of local water and Community participation. These directives form the terra firma on which the comprehensive approach of water management has been built in the State. An extensive canal network has also been developed across the state to ensure constant supply of agricultural water to farmers.
- Collection of river water
- Connection of various rivers
- Channelization of river and rain water
- Control of local water
- Community participation
Narmada acts as the back boon for Gujarat and its people. The Narmada WaterResouces Water Supply & Kalpsar Department (NWRWS) and their sub- departments of Gujarat Government has been established to manage water resources of the state, and to cater to the multiple demands of the state for adequate and efficient supply of water. The motto is to harness the untapped water of the Narmada for the socio economic development of people, even in far flung areas of the state. Under this initiative, around 7.90 Million Acre Feet out of Gujarat’s share of 9 MAF from the river Narmada has been allotted for agricultural use, 1.2 MAF for drinking water and the rest for industrial use.
Planning for the Dam
The Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited was set up by the state government to implement the Sardar Sarovar (Narmada) Project in the year 1988. It was a comprehensive and multipurpose project which envisaged construction of concrete gravity dam across river Narmada in Narmada district.
The project was conceived to provide water distribution system for irrigation across Gujarat and Rajasthan Border of 74,626 Km. After completed, it could also supply water for domestic and industrial uses for about 9633 villages and 131 townships. This explains the reach of the impact this dam in its totality would have on the state. The Sardar Sarovar Project is one of the largest water resources projects of India covering four major states – Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan.
The Water Resources Department has been created to sustainably manage, develop, conserve & protect water to all over Gujarat. It is responsible for holistic water resource management in the state which includes preparation and review of the water policy, strategic planning for water resource usage, approving utilization of water resources for irrigational and agricultural purposes, maintaining ground water level across the state, and facilitating water supply in water scarce areas of the state. It is also responsible for implementing a number of state – promoted water management schemes and projects, in addition to maintaining the safety and effective operation of dams and large capacity canals. The department has floated many plans which are systematically changing the landscape of water management in the state.
The Sujalam Sufalam Yojana has been implemented as a long term planning for providing safe drinking water and utilizing the additional flood water of the Narmada River. The Saurashtra – Narmada Avtaran Irrigation Yojana (Sauni Yojana) has been introduced to divert excess over flowing flood water of Narmada allocated to Saurashtra Region. This surplus water will be distributed into 115 reservoirs of seven districts of Saurashtra through 1,115 Km long link pipelines, benefiting 10,22,589 acre land. In order to distribute the water from the water surplus zones to the water scarce zones.
The State has interlinked its rivers; Gujarat is the first state in the country to interlink 20 rivers. Saurashtra, North Gujarat and Kutch regions are historically water scarce in which per capita water availability is exceptionally low; these areas are now reaping the benefits of this interlinking scheme. In addition, the Water Resources Department mobilizes other major schemes such as Sagarkhedu Yojana, Hydrology Project, Vanbandhu Yojana, Salinity Ingress Prevention scheme and Flood Protection schemes, with the aim of improving the quality of lives of people from all socio –economic sections, via effective water management plan.
The Water Supply Department is the section of the department responsible for providing one of the most vital components of life to people across the state – clean drinking water. The GWSSB (Gujarat Water Supply and Sewerage Board) is ensuring water supply across the state, in terms of planning and implementing the drinking water supply and sanitation policy, coordinating with the Government of India for implementing development programs such as the National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP); and even soliciting international support for water supply and sanitation programs in Gujarat. GWSSB provides drinking water supply to citizens of rural and urban areas of Gujarat by creation of various types of water supply projects like Local Source based individual village water supply projects. Another crucial body created by the Government of Gujarat is Water and Sanitation Management Organization (WASMO). This is a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) created by Government of Gujarat to revolutionize the water management in rural areas by working towards drinking water security and habitat improvement. The organization does this by empowering communities to manage their local water sources and village drinking water supply system and services. It enables communities and especially women to plan, manage and adopt
best practices for community water management, through its participatory distribution system, which is a UNO award winning initiative of Gujarat. The formation of local Pani Samitis (water committees) is one of the foremost examples of decentralization of power and encouraging micro – management, which are well known as integral parts of the Gujarat Model.
The method, scale and reach of the water management planning that the Government of Gujarat has implemented is commendable and is worth emulating in other water scarce states such as Rajsathan. Not only has it been able to provide water for residential consumption, it has made adequate water available for industrial and commercial usage. Even as the country debates the feasibility and environmental repercussion of the river linking project, whether on inter or intra basin basis, what is certain is that with careful planning and effective execution, water conservation and utilization can be revolutionized without any great scientific leap. The need is for clear thinking and political will.