Saturday, February 03, 2018

Did Gujarat's city dwellers drank away 19% of Narmada water after November 2017? Farmers' leader asks CM

Modi watching Narmada water flowing to Saurashtra
By Our Representative
With the Narmada dam’s water levels coming down to 112.32 metres as on February 2 – and a mere 181 Million Cubic Metres (MCM) of water available for use (click HERE) – top farmers’ leader Sagar Rabari has asked a pointed question: Where has all the water stored in the dam ahead of the Gujarat elections disappear?
The Narmada dam’s main canal outlet is at 110.64 metres, after which the dam’s unusable dead storage would be available. Ironically, as on October 1, 2017, the water level in the 138.68 metre dam (full reservoir level or FRL) was 130.59 metres.
Talking to Counterview, Rabari, who heads the state’s biggest non-political farmers’ body, Khedut Samaj – Gujarat (KSG), said, “We have been told that, because of the failure of rains in the catchment area, Gujarat’s share of Narmada water came down to 4.71 million acre feet (MAF), or 5,809.73 MCM, which is nearly half of the dam’s allocated share (9 MAF or 11,101.32 MCM) at FRL.”
“Taking into account that, despite shortage of inflow into the dam due to less rainfall, there was going to be no reduction in the allocation of drinking water (1.06 MAF or 1,307.49 MCM of 9 MAF), there is reason to wonder: Where did 1,126.49 MCM, or 19.39% of water disappear”, said Rabari.
“With just about 118 MCM, or 3.12% of water available in the Narmada dam today, Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani has now advised farmers not to take summer crop”, Rabari said, asking a pointed question: “Are we to believe that between November 2017 and January 2018, Gujarat’s cities drank up 19.39% of 4.71 MAF water in available in the dam?”
Suggesting that even a little child can link less rainfall with low water level in the dam, Rabari said, the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL), responsible for Narmada water distribution in Gujarat, should have known by mid-September that there would be “less water released in the dam.”
“If the SSNNL did know that there would be a shortfall of drinking water and irrigation, why did it allow the criminal wastage of Narmada water for the Aji and Narmada dam inaugurations and other election-related programmes in September 2017?”, he asked in a statement.
As already reported, the inflow into the Narmada dam was suddenly allowed to jump – from 495 cumecs (cubic meters per second) on September 12, to 2384 cumecs on September 16, in anticipation of Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting the dam for his birthday bash on September 17.
At the same time, ahead of Gujarat polls, Madhya Pradesh depleted its water storage so that the Narmada dam looked full on September 17. Thus, Madhya Pradesh’s dam, Indira Sagar Project’s storage level, which was already very low (about 33%) on September 11 with monsoon almost coming to close, was depleted by further 450 MCM from September 11 to September 16, while the Narmada dam water level rose by 750 MCM during the same period.
Asking Rupani and SSNNL officials to provide “the account of where and how much water was used”, and whether the water used is “as per the Water Usage Manual of the inter-state Narmada Control Authority”, Rabari insisted, they should also provide details of “how much water was wasted in the inaugurations”.
Also seeking information on “how many people could have been provided drinking water for how many months with 1,307.49 MCM of water”, Rabari said, they should also make public “how much area could have been irrigated in that amount of water.”
“Rajasthan has been allotted a mere 0.5 Million Acre Feet (MAF) of water by the Narmada Control Authority (NCA). It has already successfully provided irrigation in 2.46 lakh hectares (ha) and drinking water to 45 lakh people”, Rabari said, adding, “This proves that the Gujarat government and the SSNNL have grossly mismanaged and criminally wasted this precious resource of the people of Gujarat.”
“It is time that the city dwellers woke up and demanded an account of their stolen waters. The political class used the water as a vote-catching ploy”, he said, adding,  the chief minister is now misleading the people of Gujarat "on the issue of drinking water and irrigation.”
“City-dwellers facing drinking water shortages in summer months should remember that farmers have not used that water”, said Rabari, adding, “Their water has been swindled from them, used for a totally useless and ulterior motive of getting votes in the assembly election and photo ops and then ultimately drained into the sea!”

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