The Gujarat government on Tuesday said that 939 villages of the state were facing water scarcity whereas 2,979 villages were partially affected.
"After the survey of 69 talukas in 10 districts of the state, the government has found that there is a situation of scarcity in 939 villages and other 2,979 villages are facing partial scarcity," state Revenue Minister Anandi Patel said in the assembly on Tuesday.
However, the opposition termed the announcement of scarcity-hit villages as ‘very late one’ describing it as a ‘face saving exercise’.
"The government knew that we were to raise the issue of water scarcity on Tuesday in the House and hence as a face saving exercises, it on the last moment added a supplementary agenda in the proceedings and hastily made a statement on it," leader of opposition Shankarsinh Vaghela told reporters outside the assembly.
In the past, whenever a scarcity was declared in any area, the whole taluka was declared scarcity hit, “But surprisingly for the first time this government has declared selected villages of a taluka as scarcity hit areas," Vaghela said.
Patel informed the House that the government has asked all the Collectors concerned to submit reports on the crop and water situation in their respective districts.
"All collectors did Anawari survey of the Kharif-1 crops in their areas and submitted reports which were considered in the Cabinet sub-committee meeting held on March 18, 2013," she said.
As per the reports, many villages were facing a difficult situation because of Kharif crop failure. Those villages which were declared scarcity hit areas would be provided all support from the government, the minister assured the house.
"We have made arrangements of providing not only water to the villages but they will also be provided fodder for cattle, and farmers whose crop has failed will be offered employment under NREGA too," she added.
The Suarashtra region was the worst hit among the total of 3,918 villages which were declared scarcity affected today by the state government.
Most of the affected villages were in Rajkot, Jamnagar, Junagadh, Porbandar, Amerli and Bhavnagar districts whereas 165 villages were in Banaskantha and Patan districts in northern Gujarat. 100 villages were declared scarcity affected in Mundra and Lakhpat talukas of Kutch district while 8 villages were in Ahmedabad district.
Earlier, when their demand to suspend the Question Hour to discuss the water scarcity issue was rejected by the assembly speaker, all Congress members of Legislative Assembly staged a vociferous protest inside the house.
The speaker then suspended all the protesting members from the house for a day. Vaghela alleged that ‘a team of central government, which had earlier visited many areas in the state, has identified 17 districts as scarcity hit and also announced a relief package of Rs 865 crore for it. But the state government has only identified 59 talukas of 10 districts. This is gross injustice to the people of remaining seven districts who are reeling under water scarcity."