Water – the Elixir of Life – has the potential to sustain human life and also to develop it further, and that is why various international instruments have aptly recognized its role in sustainable development. This paper reviews the global and Indian water scenario before presenting the case of Gujarat State, where perennial water scarcity has raised serious threats to the existence of millions of people and cattle and has led to environmental degradation and constrained economic development. More than 13,000 villages out of 18,028 villages of the State are facing scarcity in terms of crop failure this year. Drinking water supply is maintained by transporting water by road tankers, “water special” trains and even by ships via a sea route. Lack of access to safe and clean water for domestic use has a detrimental effect on the social fabric, and even incidences of migration and water riots are recorded. The paper discusses the efficacy of available options including rain water harvesting. The efforts of the State to harness the untapped waters of Narmada for the survival of millions and sustainable development of western India, are discussed adjudging socio-economic and environmental impacts. The paper concludes that assured water supply is essentially critical for overall development.

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