Sunday, January 21, 2018

Narmada for irrigation? Gujarat polls led BJP rulers to postpone announcement of "water scarcity": Top CM aide

By Our Representative
Sharply reacting to Counterview story (click HERE), which said, quoting Gujarat government sources, that the state's farmers will not be provided with Narmada waters this summer because the waters would diverted to Madhya Pradesh agricultural fields in view of the elections there this year, a top aide of Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani has said, "There is real shortage, and this the only reason why Gujarat farmers wouldn't be able to get waters."
However, the aide, known to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, however, admitted to Counterview that "we did not announce the shortage earlier because of political reasons." According to him, "In November last year, ahead of the Gujarat elections, the indications were clear: There was going to be a sharp shortfall of Narmada waters for irrigation. But as it was a poll year, we did not make it known..."
Dishing out "official" figures to prove his point, the top aide said, "In November 2017, it was more than clear that the availability of water from the Narmada dam would be 5.3 million acre feet (MAF) as against the actual allocation of 9 MAF to Gujarat. As time passed, we found that the availability would be progressively going down, and as of today, the estimate is down to 4.67 MAF, not enough to irrigate the state's agricultural fields."
Denying that industry is being supplied "more water" than what it is allowed at the cost of agriculture, as alleged by senior farmers' leader Sagar Rabari, the aide said, Gujarat's industry should be allocated 0.2 MAF water, but the water that would be supplied to it too would go down to 0.16 MAF. "We get daily figures and analyse them. There is no manipulation."
The aide, at the same time, admitted, that there is a "distinct possibility" that the Madhya Pradesh government, with an eye on elections, may have stored "as much Narmada water as possible in its dams", though claiming, "There is a limitation to the amount of water they can store. This monsoon, there hasn't been much rain in the Narmada catchment area, which mainly fall in Madhya Pradesh. There is little inflow now."
The aide said, "In fact, there appears to be little possibility of irrigating agricultural fields in Madhya Pradesh, too, by extracting water from the state's existing dams and sending them into the canals", though adding, "We have reports that, like we did at the Narmada dam, the dams in Madhya Pradesh also have built ground-level canals to extract water during drought-like situations, which they might use this summer to appease farmers."
Built in the year 2000, the two so-called two integrated by-pass tunnels (IPBTs) in the Narmada dam in Gujarat to draw dead waters from the dam’s reservoir during drought years had gone controversial after two neighbours, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, protested against the state’s "intention" to use the IPBTs, as they believed, their use would hit power being produced at the dam.

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