Caught unawares by drought-like situation in many parts of the state last year, the state government has not only made a provision of over Rs 650 crore in its annual budget for 2013-14 to “cover the risks in agriculture”, but has also proposed to create “water police” to guard against pilferage of water.
In his budget speech presented in the state Assembly on Wednesday, Finance Minister Nitin Patel said, “It was for the first time in a decade that Gujarat came across grave shortage of rainfall last year. This experience has resulted in our preparedness to prevent such future loss, if any.”
The government has made a provision of Rs 100 crore to create a Crop Insurance Fund. Similarly, a provision of Rs 20 crore for supporting the premium cost for Cotton Insurance has also been made.
Meanwhile, the state government has proposed to create a “water infrastructure protection task force” to control illegitimate lifting of water.
This task force will comprise police and technical personnel and ex-servicemen. A provision of Rs 5 crore has been made for the same in the budget.
In order to provide protection for crops of farmers, an additional 1 million acre feet of water from Narmada river earmarked for the Saurashtra region will be transferred into 115 dams, using four link canals of 1,115 kilometres. A provision of Rs 1,000 crore has been made in the budget for this water transfer.
In the next financial year, the government has also planned to increase the irrigation facility to an additional 3 lakh hectares using the Narmada canal network. Approximately, 2,030 villages in 14 districts of the state will benefit from this.
In order to provide sufficient pure drinking water in rural areas, the government has made a provision of Rs 1,650 crore for water supply from Sardar Sarovar Narmada canals.
“Through this bulk pipeline grid project, about 3,000 villages of 45 talukas of Bhavnagar, Amreli, Junagadh, Porbandar and Rajkot districts will be benefitted,” said Patel in his budget speech.
Apart from a Rs 180-crore plan to expand water supply facilities in 2,700 villages of coastal areas, the government has also proposed to strengthen the same in tribal areas touching about 16 lakh people.
“Activities for creating awareness to conserve water is the need of the hour. Multi-faceted programmes and activities will be undertaken to generate awareness among the people at large. A provision of Rs 1 crore has been made for intensifying such activities,” Patel added.