Skip to main content

Vulnerability hits Gujarat's Narmada-based canal network, adequately price, manage water: CM aide Navalawala

By Our Representative
A top Gujarat government water resources official, who has been aide to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has warned that Gujarat’s Narmada-based canal network has been “reduced to be vulnerable”, underlining it does not even have the “buffer for 15 days” for supplying water, making its “closures for maintenance” almost an impossible task.
Pointing out that things are turning bad for Narmada-based irrigation, domestic and industrial water supply, the Gujarat chief minister’s water resources adviser BN Navalawala, making a presentation in Gandhinagar, said, while Rs 9000 crore has been spent on Narmada-based water supply pipelines, and more is being spent, the limit for 0.86 million acre feet (MAF) for water to be used for non-irrigation use has already been crossed.
Former Government of India (GoI) water resources secretary and currently heading a high-level GoI committee on inter-linking of rivers, Navalawala regretted, the original plan was to consider Narmada just a supplementary source of water but today has become the “primary source.”
Speaking at a Vibrant Gujarat seminar on January 2, he cautioned the audience, who consisted of government officials, experts and industry executives, “Over-dependence on Narmada would not only badly hit agriculture but also induce much stress in water supply sector which might lead to social stress, if not unrest.”
His calculation was based on a graph which he presented at the seminar, showed that that there was continuous reduction in water availability in Narmada basin.
While the Gujarat government has fixed a norm for supplying water for domestic use to rural areas and urban areas -- 100 liters and 250 per capita day in rural areas, respectively, Navalawala said, there was yet another dimension of the stress – that “municipal corporations, municipalities and panchayats do not pay water charges”, even if they are a “token”.
Calling it a parasitical attitude, he said, “Urban areas have not been given metered water supply”, nor is there any concept of “recycling of water in urban areas which could offload the supply and effluent disposal.” He added, “Open defecation free villages and towns would need more water for sanitation and more effluent to be treated.”
Insisting that priority to domestic water should not mean eating into irrigation water, Navalawala criticized industry by crying wolf on high water tariff, even though it knows, “technological advancement could enhance water use efficiency, which India grossly lacks.”
“With technologies and methods available today, industry can cut its water needs by 40-90% and cities by 30%, with no sacrifice of economic output or quality of life”, Navalawala estimated, adding, “Fresh water is being polluted by semi-treated effluent, further stressing on water resources”.
Pointing towards how Sabarmati and Mahi rivers’ fresh water is being polluted, he added, similarly, “groundwater of Valsad and Vapi” in South Gujarat is proving to an “eye-opener” example in this regard.
At the same time, Navalawala said, “Development cannot allow backward technologies to flourish at the cost of irrigation water”, adding, things have turned worse along “Gujarat’s 1600 km-long coastline”, where “dependence on groundwater” has made entire regions “vulnerable due to sea water intrusion.” At the same time, he said, “Desalination is very costly. We need an economical and appropriate technological solution.”
Insisting that water price should have the “right place in planning and policy formation”, Navalawala emphasized “the need to collect royalty (i.e. price) on use of both groundwater and surface water.”
Saying that “water management rather than water scarcity is needed to be considered as cornerstone in policy making” at a time when “Gujarat has 5% of geographical area and population of India but only 2% of water resources”, Navalawala said, “Blind industrialization needs to be replaced by resource based and planned development”, avoiding “water intensive industries”.

Comments

TRENDING

It's now official: Developed Gujarat's regular, casual workers earn less than 19 top states

By Rajiv Shah
Though not as low as state chief minister Vijay Rupani claims it to be (0.9%), Gujarat’s unemployment rate, at least as reflected in a recent report released by the Government of India, is 4.8%, lower than the national average, 6%. Yet, ironically, the same report, released soon after the Lok Sabha polls came to an end in May 2019, brings to light an even grimmer reality: Lower wages in "model" and "developed" Gujarat compared to virtually the whole of India, including the so-called Bimaru states.

Telangana govt proposes to give unfettered powers to forest officials, 'help' corporates

By Dr Palla Trinadha Rao*
The Telangana Government is contemplating to replace the Telangana Forest Act 1967 with a new law - the Telangana Forest Act (TFA) 2019, trampling the rights of adivasis ensured under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 (FRA Act 2006) and Panchayats Extension to Schedule Area (PESA) Act 1996 both of which are central acts.

Amaravati: World Bank refusing to share public grievances on Land Pooling Scheme

By Our Representative
A new report, prepared by the advocacy group Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), New Delhi, has taken strong exception to the World Bank refusing to share its independent assessment of the Land Pooling Scheme (LPS), floated by the Andhra Pradesh government in order to build the new capital.

British companies export 'deadly' asbestos to India, other countries from offshore offices

By Rajiv Shah
“The Sunday Times”, which forms part of the powerful British daily, “The Times”, has raised the alarm that though the “deadly” asbestos is banned in Britain, companies registered in United Kingdom, and operating from other countries, “are involved in shipping it to developing nations”, especially India. India, Brazil, Russia and China account for almost 80% of the asbestos consumed globally every year, it adds.

RSS, Hindu Mahasabha were 'subservient' to British masters: Nagpur varsity VC told

Counterview Desk
Well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam, associate professor (retired), University of Delhi, in an open letter to the vice-chancellor of the Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University, Dr Siddharthavinayaka P Kane, has taken strong exception to the varsity decision to include RSS’ “role” in nation building in the syllabus of the BA (history) course, citing instances to say that the RSS ever since its birth in 1925 with its Hindutva allies like Hindu Mahasabha led by VD Savarkar worked overtime to “betray the glorious anti-colonial freedom struggle”.

Beijing-based infrastructure bank 'funding' India's environmentally risky projects

By Our Representative
A new civil society note has questioned the operations of the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a multilateral development bank that aims to support the building of infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region, seeking to fund projects in India through the Government of India’s National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF), calling it “a risky venture”.

Include all workers exposed to silica dust in anti-TB programme: Govt of India told

Counterview Desk
In a letter, sponsored by well-known civil rights organization, Occupational & Environmental Health Network of India and signed by more than 60 professionals and activists*, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, has been told that Indian policy makers shouldn't just acknowledge higher TB risk to mine and stone crusher workers, but also “other silica-exposed workers”.

Govt of India 'lying': MGNREGA budget reduced by Rs 1,084 crore in 2019-20

Counterview Desk
NREGA Sangharsh Morcha, a well-known advocacy group for the rural jobs guarantee scheme, under implementation since 2005, has said that the statement by the Rural Development Minister has a made a mockery of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) on the floor of Parliament, revealing the ruling BJP’s “anti-worker and anti-poor bias”.

Universal healthcare? India lacks provisions to 'fight' non-communicable diseases

By Moin Qazi*
Universal health coverage (UHC) -- ensuring that all people receive proper and adequate health care without suffering financial hardship -- is an integral part of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It enables countries to make the most of their strongest asset: human capital.

Govt of India seeks to 'subvert' autonomy of adjudicating authorities: RTI amendment

Counterview Desk
India's independent Right to Information watchdog, The National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information (NCPRI), in a statement, has said that the Government of India’s proposed amendments to the RTI Act to empower the Centre to unilaterally decide the tenure, salary, allowances and other terms of service of Information Commissioners at the Centre and States “seriously undermine” the law.