While BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's 'Gujarat development model' has caught the nation's fancy, a new United Nations (UN) report says Gujarat is one of the most water-starved states in India.
The UN World Water Development Report 2014 observes that unsustainable use of water for agriculture is the prime reason for the groundwater level falling in most parts of Gujarat.
"The issue of groundwater overdraft in India has been well-known for decades," says the report.
"In the state of Gujarat, free groundwater and subsidised electricity to pump it contributed to severe groundwater overdraft, near bankruptcy of the State Electricity Board, and poor power supply to farmers and other rural residents."
Questioning the state government's policy of subsidised power to water primarily for irrigation, the report says it is causing depletion of groundwater in most un-irrigated areas – leading to a severe drinking water crisis.
A 2012 report of the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) said more than half of the bore-wells in Gujarat had recorded a dip in the water level.
"Out of this, 28% wells have shown a fall in 0-2m range. About 12% of the wells have shown fall in 2-4m range and about 18% wells have shown fall in water level in more than 4m," said the CGWB report.
The board also highlighted in its report that the situation was grave in areas where agriculture was completely dependent on irrigation.
In the recent past, Gujarat has witnessed nearly 8-10% agriculture growth rate, among the highest in India, and one of the reasons is better irrigation facilities.
The UN report highlighted that providing subsidy in power to farmers was a reason for overdrawal of water from groundwater sources, sometimes to an unsustainable level.
"In Gujarat, one of the drier states in India, policies to ration farm power supply, and thus water supply, have been recommended to encourage farmers to use water more sparingly," the UNESCO report says.