Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Past 14 years, just 21% Gujarat's Narmada command area completed, irrigation waters "diverted" to industry

Narmada canal network: Progress in Gujarat
By Our Representative
Khedut Samaj – Gujarat (KSG), the upcoming farmers’ organization, has alleged “criminal conspiracy” of transferring Narmada waters to industry, instead of providing them to the state’s agricultural fields by developing Narmada canals. 
Claiming this is forcing farmers to “distress sale of land” and “suicide”, a KSG meet, held in Ahmedabad on January 18, 2016, has decided to go in for a massive awareness campaign in the Narmada command area.
Attended by farmer representatives of Mandal-Bhechraji Special Investment Region (SIR) and Dholera SIR, where massive land acquisition drive for industrial use has gone controversial, with plans to divert Narmada water to industry, the KSG, a non-political body, will be distributing pamphlets, paste posters, hold village meetings, and get Gram Sabhas, Gram Panchayats, Taluka Panchayats and District Panchayats pass resolutions demanding timetable for Narmada waters for irrigation.
Declaring that it would also hold taluka and district level sammelans in Narmada command areas, as also hold awareness yatras along the main and branch canals, a KSG statement issued following the meeting said that “the situation is becoming grim and the administration remains unresponsive to farmers’ demands, even protests through road blocks and fast-unto-deaths.”
To be held under the banner “Narmada water now, is non-negotiable”, the KSG said, “Low productivity of agriculture and the resultant low incomes are also the result of unavailability of irrigation.”
Pointing out that “irrigation to water scarce regions of Gujarat, viz. Bhal, Saurashtra and Kutch in the main, was the raison de etre of the Narmada dam”, KSG said, even 35 years after the award to go ahead with the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Project to provide water to 18 lakh hectares in Gujarat, farmers in the Narmada command area are not getting water.
Distribution of Narmada waters
“Fourteen years after the waters reached the Narmada main canal near Ahmedabad and 10 years after it reached Navada at Vallabhipur branch canal, the government has, purposefully, not completed the canal network, i.e. sub-minor canals, which are meant to take the water to the fields”, the top farmers’ body contended.
“As of last year, only 21 per cent of sub-minor canal network is in place, despite much of the infrastructure i.e. branch, distributaries being in place. It is part of a larger conspiracy against the agriculture sector to compel the farmers to abandon agriculture and migrate to the cities without any burden on government for their R&R; and this is no longer hidden from the farmers”, it underlined.
“The Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal (NWDT) awarded 9 Million Acre Feet (MAF) of water to Gujarat. Of this, 7.94 MAF are meant to provide irrigation, 1.06 MAF are meant for drinking water (0.86 MAF) and industrial use (0.2 MAF). As against 18.45 lakh hectares of land in Gujarat (spread over 15 districts, 73 talukas and 3,112 villages) which had to receive Narmada waters, only 1,17,026 ha have been irrigated”, the KSG said.
“As against this dismal performance, the water allocation for industries has already exceeded the 0.20 MAF”, it said, adding, top Gujarat government official, Arvind Agarwal, additional chief secretary, industries and mines, has admitted that “the state has exceeded the allocation of Narmada water for industries. Of the total allocation of 0.20 MAF for industrial use, the state is already using 0.25 MAF.”

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