Rajasthan is on the brink of a water emergency. With the monsoon playing truant, water is being supplied every two days or once a week in the state. The intermittent monsoons have left 75 per cent dams in the state dry.
To add to the woes of the people, there will be electricity cuts from Monday. While the four block in Jaipur district will see one hour cuts, the divisional headquarters will have two hours power cuts, the district headquarters will have three hour cuts, municipalities will have four hour and 5000 plus towns will have five hour power cuts.
In Jaipur, the water resources department has taken over private borewells and the Railways has been asked to ready train services to supply water. The government is mulling strict measures like a ban on private underground tanks, charging more from those who use more than the prescribed water limit and a ban on private borings.
Supply of drinking water to Jaipur, Ajmer and Tonk form the Bisalpur dam in Tonk district, has been stopped from July 16. The Bisalpur dam supplied 17 million litres of water daily to the three districts.
“We had hoped for good monsoon. If it doesn’t rain by July 31, there will be an emergency situation. Water will be a scarce commodity,” said Principal Secretary Water Resources, Ram Lubhaya.
“Water supply to Jaipur will be on regular basis till July 31. But after that we will have to cut short supply,” he said.
A report of the Irrigation Department last week showed that 469 of the 618 reservoirs in the state are empty. Dams in Ajmer, Jaipur, Jhunjhunu, Sikar, Sawai Madhpur and Tonk have no water left. The three major dams in Jaipur – Ramgarh, Chaparwara and Kalak Sagar – are empty.
In districts like Ajmer and Tonk water is being supplied every fifth day while in Barmer, Bhilwara, Pali, and Nagaur water is being supplied once a week, that also through trains and tankers. In remote villages, water is being supplied through government as well as private tankers.
The government is planning to request special status for Rajasthan in water sector management at the July 24 meeting of the National Development Council in New Delhi.
The government has prepared a detailed report on the impending water crisis.
Chief minister Ashok Gehlot is trying to seek the maximum possible assistance from the centre. The quantum of assistance being sought may run into thousands of crore of rupees, said an official.
This assistance may also include World Bank assistance for the two existing projects -Bhilwara (water to be brought from the Chambal river) and Nagaur (water to be brought from the Indira Gandhi Canal).