Skip to main content

Gujarat govt "officially" reduced Narmada irrigation network by 21% in a decade, water diverted to industry: Ex-BJP CM

Suresh Mehta (right) with Hemant Shah
By Our Representative
Has the Gujarat government taken a quiet policy decision to slash down the total area to be brought under cultivation by Narmada canal waters -- around 18 lakh hectares (ha) -- by 20.62%? It would seem so, if the official figures on Narmada canals planned to be built across the state, brought to light on Monday, are any indication.
Quoted by Suresh Mehta, former BJP chief minister of Gujarat, the official figures show that under the original plan, 90,389 km of Narmada canal network was proposed to be constructed to irrigate 18 lakh ha. In 2006, under the then chief minister Narendra Modi, this came down to 85,898 km.
Pointing out that a decade later this further came down to 76,000 km, addressing media in a VVIP government guest house in Ahmedabad, Mehta quoted the Gujarat government's budget document, "Socio-Economic Review 2016-17", released in the state assembly in February, to say that the planned Narmada canal network has been further brought down by about 5,000 km.
Under the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP), the document says, the " multipurpose project" with a "discharge capacity of 40,000 cusecs at the point (Narmada dam) and 2,500 cusecs at Gujarat-Rajasthan border" would have a "network of 71,748 km".
Interestingly, while the latest document says that the project "is expected to provide irrigation benefits in over 75 talukas of 17 districts in the state", three-fourths of which is "drought prone", it does not say the actual area to be brought under irrigation once the canal network of 71,748 km is completed. The canal network includes the main canal, the branch canals, and minor and sub-minor canals to take Narmada waters to agricultural fields.
Alleged Mehta, "The Gujarat government has not taken any permission from the Narmada Control Authority, the Central body, which should be approached for any major policy change to be brought about for such successive reduction in the canal network. The figures have been quietly released in the labyrinth of budget documents."
Screenshot of govt document showing
reduced Narmada canal network in 2017
Asked what could be the reason behind such sharp 18,641 km or 21% decline in the canal network attached with the Narmada dam, Mehta said, "I can only surmise, but don't have facts. The Gujarat government appears to be more than keen to divert irrigation waters to industry. There have been reports that it has decommanded thousands of hectares of Narmada command area."
Well-known Gujarati publicist Hemant Shah, who teaches economics in a Gujarat University college, told media that, despite wide claims that 75% of canal network having been completed, official documents show, the actual canal irrigation, as of today, is somewhere around three lakh ha, as against the plan of 18 lakh ha.
"Budget documents and figures provided in the state assembly suggest that the actual canal irrigation was to the tune of 1.92 lakh ha in 2011-12, which remained stagnant at 2.09 lakh ha till 2014-15. In 2017-18 it is 3.30 lakh ha, and would be 3.30 lakh ha in 2018-19! It means that only 18.42% of canal irrigation would be completed in coming two years", he said.
Mehta said, "We are bringing these facts to light ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's birthday bash on September 17 at the Narmada dam. The aim of the celebration is to showcase, ahead of the assembly polls, what great work Gujarat and the Modi government have done to complete the project in order to make political capital out of it, in the same way as it did in 2007 and 2012 assembly elections."
Mehta, 80, who was BJP chief minister in 1995-96, resigned from the party in early December 2007 ahead of the state assembly polls, and joined hands with Modi's main political opponent in the party, Keshubhai Patel, who was Gujarat chief minister in 2005, and then again in 1998-2001.

Comments

TRENDING

US research: 40% of India's casteist Facebook posts are anti-reservation, anti-Dalit

By Rajiv Shah
A recent American civil society research has found that 40% of India's casteist posts on Facebook (FB) have anti-reservation slant. Asserting that the reservation policy in India is similar to affirmative action in the United States, the research study, titled "Facebook India: Towards The Tipping Point of Violence Caste and Religious Hate Speech", says, this type of hate content on FB is mainly directed against Dalits and Adivasis.

Sanjiv Bhatt paying price for deposing on Modi role in Gujarat riots: Wife Shweta

Counterview Desk
Following the Jamnagar sessions court ordering life imprisonment to former IPS officer Sanjiv Bhatt for his alleged involvement in three decades old custodial death case, his wife Shweta Bhatt has said that he has been sentenced for a “for a crime he did not commit”, even as criticizing the Indian Police Service (IPS) Association, Gujarat, for not standing up for him.

Senior advocates targeted because they took up cases against Amit Shah: Lawyers' NGO

Counterview Desk
The Lawyers Collective (LC), an NGO claiming to promote human rights issues, has expressed surprise at the latest move by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to register an FIR against the Lawyers Collective (LC), its president Anand Grover and unknown office bearers for alleged violation of the Foreign Contributions Regulation Act (FCRA).

How Gujarat govt imposed curbs on livestock export for 'fear' of losing BJP vote share

By RK Misra*
Insidious are the ways authorities function, preaching one thing, practicing quite another. Administrative muscle-flexing to suit political goals was on display when the BJP-led Vijay Rupani government in Gujarat banned the export of livestock days ahead of Eid. Even the Narendra Modi-led government expressed its intent to confirm it countrywide, but stopped short of doing so.

One of the least peaceful countries, India's global peace ranking deteriorates: Report

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released report has asserted that India's ranking in the Global Peace Index (GPI) is 141st among 163 countries, deteriorating by four ranks in a year. Ranking 163 countries by providing a score to each, the report, prepared by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), headquartered in Sydney, Australia, has found India to be one of the least peaceful nations in the region.

Demand for Bharat Ratna to Dalai Lama as top RSS leader warns China of 'strong' action

Nava Thakuria*
Dharamshala: Indian supporters for a free Tibet have urged the Government of India to confer Bharat Ratna, the country’s highest civilian honour, on the Tibetan spiritual leader, the 14th Dalai Lama, for his “immense contributions” in creating goodwill for India in the last six decades. A declaration, adopted at the 6th All-India Tibet Support Groups’ Conference held on June 15 and 16 in Dharamshala township of Himachal Pradesh, said that the Nobel laureate continues to be a holy ambassador of Indian culture enriched with non-violence, compassion and religious harmony.

Sabarmati 'cleaned up' swimming pool style: Untreated effluents discharged in river

Counterview Desk
In a fresh letter to the secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India, senior Gujarat environmentalists Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS) have taken strong objection to the recent clean-up drive of the about 11.3 km stretch of Sabarmati riverbed undertaken by the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC), terming it as “swimming pool type clean-up.” The river’s total length is 371 km.

Jharkhand mob lynching: Adivasis protest police 'inaction', FIR against victims

Counterview Desk
The Jharkhand Janadhikar Manch (JJM), a civil rights network, on Monday sponsored a protest against the police action against the Adivasi victims of the lynching which took on April 10, 2019, in Jurmu village of Dumri block in Gumla district of Jharkhand. The incident led the death of Prakash Lakda, aged 50.

Gujarat govt 'considers' temples, charitable institutions as shops and establishment

By Pankti Jog*
The Gujarat state assembly recently passed a new law which would "govern" the working condition of shops and establishments. One of the most talked about provisions of the Act is, it allow shops and establishments across Gujarat to function 24 hours.

There is no 'separate' Kashmir story, as there is for Afghanistan, Nepal, Tibet, Palestine

By Mohan Guruswamy*
Kashmir is the northernmost geographical region of South Asia. Until the mid-19th century, the term "Kashmir" denoted only the valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range. The name Kashmir derives from the Sanskrit Kashyapmeru. The Greeks knew it as Kaspeiria. Herodotus called it Kaspatyros.