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Where did 4.28 MAF Narmada water disappear after Dec 2017 assembly polls? Farmers' leader writes to CM

Counterview Desk
Sagar Rabari, general secretary, Gujarat Khedut Samaj (GKS), has in an open letter to chief minister Vijay Rupani, sought what he calls "transparent account of Narmada water", flowing from the Sardar Sarovar dam into the main canal, suggesting how it may have been misused for political ends during the December 2017 Gujarat state assembly elections.

Text of the letter:

Post-Assembly elections (2017) the issue of Narmada water grabbed peoples attention. Earlier the farmers were being confused by the allegations and counter-allegations on the issue of the dam height and gates. But now, despite the dam gates being in place when the Narmada water has not reached the fields the farmers are beginning to get an idea of the real picture. More so when on January 12, 2018 you advised the farmers not to sow the summer crop, the farmers were truly awakened. For that, many thanks.
At this state I specially wish to draw your attention to the Water Use Plan (guidelines and plan for the use of the water which the Government of Gujarat [GoG] has, from time to time, presented to the World Bank, the Supreme Court and the Government of India [GoI]) made for the water available from the Narmada river. The Plan clearly states two things:
1. The Water Use Plan includes the Narmada water as well as surface and groundwater use plan, and,
2. Any change in the planned use of the water will require the approval of the Gujarat Government without which no change can be made in this plan.
Point No 2: Non-agriculture Use of Water of this Plan states that:
"2.1: NWDT (Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal) considered a water need of 1.06 MAF (million acre feet) for domestic and other non-agricultural uses in Gujarat on full development. These uses include requirements for urban and rural areas mostly in the command but to some extent outside the command where other water supply possibilities did not exist.
"2.2: The total requirement for domestic, industrial and thermal power projects works out to 1.37 MAF including 0.48 MAF from outside sources as given in Table-1.
"2.3: Out of the total requirement of 1.37 MAF for non-agricultural use, 0.48 MAF is expected to be available from local sources while 0.14 MAF is expected from recharge drawls. The balance of 0.75 MAF will have to be met from the Narmada Canal System. Adding thereto losses in the system, the gross demand on the Narmada Canal System works out to around 1 MAF.
"2.5: There is no change in the Industrial Water Supply from the Project. The water usage plan, as such, remains unchanged. However, if surplus water, overflowing Sardar Sarovar Dam during monsoon, is available it was proposed to utilize such water, if feasible, for the Industrial Usage. However, it may be required to clarify in unambiguous terms that the industrial water usage from the Project remains unchanged."

Sagar Rabari
Now to the main issue of the account of water sought from the SSNNL and given by it.
In response to my Right to Information (RTI) application dated February 8, 2018, the public information officer (PIO) and deputy genral manager (Narmada) has, vide response (SSNNL/RTI/2018/26/Dam&Power), has informed me: The total quantum of water available to Gujarat State for the year 2017-18 was 4.80 MAF, of which 4.68 MAF was used up till February 2018.
In response to query No 3 of the said RTI, the executive engineer, Narmada Yojana and Main Canal Section No 2 (inward No:PB-3/RTI/Water/1094/ dated April 30, 2018), states:
"The quantum of water released between 1st July 2017 and 12 January 2018 is:
Irrigation: 297.8681 MCM (million cubic metre)
Drinking water: 197.1627 MCM
Industrial use: 011.8412 MCM
Total: 488.8721 MCM".

When we convert MCM to AF (acre feet), the total comes to 3,96,335.05583 AF (this is the figure till January 12, 2018, i.e. a total of 196 days).
Deducting 3,96,335 AF from 46,80,000 AF, then 42,83,665 AF, i.e. 4.28 MAF water should be available in the dam on January 13, 2018.
This means that:
1. The answers to the RTI queries are not truthful;
2. The water was used for political purposes, rather than the mandated uses; or,
3. There is massive corruption in the usage of the dam water.
The questions, doubts, apprehensions and suspicions arising in the minds of the farmers of Gujarat can only be allayed if you provide honest and truthful answers to the same.
We, the farmers, want to know, from you:
1. Who informed you that there is no water in the dam, if, on January 13, 2018, 4.28 MAF water was available in the dam?
2. On what basis or calculation did your advisor advise you to make the announcement to the farmers on not to saw summer crops?
3. If, however, there was really no water in the dam, then where did the 4.28 MAF water disappeared?
4. Will you order an inquiry into this anomaly? Can the GoG, considered to be among the best in digital India and e-governance, make arrangements to the daily usage of dam water on the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL) and irrigation department websites?
5. If the information provided to me is false then can you order that I be provided fresh information in simple and easy-to-understand language? Alternatively, can you arrange a meeting of a responsible officer (Engineer) of SSNNL with the farmer leaders to explain the account of water usage?
I hope that you, an advocate of zero tolerance for corruption, will answer my questions honestly and truthfully. If we do not get truthful answers and/or if the officers are not ready to come and talk to farmers then how can farmers trust that GoG and SSNNL are honest and that their water is not being diverted elsewhere? How will they believe that the GoG is not a partner in the criminal misuse or stealth or diversion of the Narmada water?
I am sending a copy of this letter to the Chairman SSNNL for information. The entire Narmada scheme was for the farmers and the people of Gujarat and they have a right to know what is happening there. Hence I am also releasing it to the press for wider coverage.
Hoping for a fruitful answer from you.

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