Skip to main content

Central Narmada authority, not SSNNL, responsible for Gujarat floods: Govt insider

By Rajiv Shah

A top Gujarat government insider, who has worked for umpteen number of years in the state’s huge Narmada and water resources establishment, believes that the recent controversy surrounding the “extraordinary” flooding of Bharuch district of South Gujarat from August 29 to September 2 Gujarat, fails to take into account a major factor.
Giving a new twist to the controversy, this insider, who has wished to remain anonymous, told Counterview that the Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD) operators – or for that matter the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL), a Gujarat government agency responsible for the mammoth dam on the Narmada river – have “no say” in the release of the waters, which may have allegedly caused flooding of Narmada in Bharuch.
The controversy follows an article by well-known environmentalist Himanshu Thakkar of the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) accusing the SSD operators for operating the dam “callously, almost cruelly, without consideration of the impact of the operation in the downstream area”, wondering why they did not go in for staggered release of water earlier, even though all the information about heavy rainfall was available since August 16.
The SSD operators released whopping 10 lakh cusecs (cubic feet per second) or 28,320 cumecs (cubic meters per second) of water from the dam, which continued for “3-4 days”, leading to the massive flooding in Bharuch, causing immense hardships to the people and massive soil erosion “on the banks of Narmada and its tributaries”, Thakkar alleged.
In their reply (endorsed by SSNNL as the view “independent engineers”), four former senior government officials – two of them ex-chief engineers of SSNNL – criticised Thakkar (without naming him) that some well-known activists “who are anti-dam in general and anti-Sardar Sarovar in particular” have been attempting to curse the SSD and its project authorities “by making false allegations of having created avoidable flood disaster".
The four ex-officials claimed, SSD operators “made use of” state of the art technology and with scientific analysis and coordinated operations of various reservoirs “with the help” of the Central Water Commission (CWC) and the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) in such a way that the discharge of water from the dam “could be restricted to less than 10 lakh cusecs for most of the times … as against the spillway discharge carrying capacity of 30 lakh cusecs.”
Taking issue with both the views, the top state insider said that SSD, as also all dams on the Narmada river upstream in Madhya Pradesh, are operated under the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal (NWDT) Award of 1979, and SSD operators, or for that matter SSNNL, in fact all other operators of the projects that have come up on Narmada, are mere “an implementing and operating agencies” whether for the release of the waters from the dams or the operation of their power houses. 
The NWDT Award, he says, provides for “a machinery to implement”, which is called Narmada Control Authority (NCA). This authority “started functioning on December 20, 1980” as a “body corporate with representatives of the four states of Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and representatives of the Government of India. Secretary, (water resources), Government of India, is the ex-officio chairman of the Authority.”
Seeking to put all the responsibility for SSD’s operations (which allegedly caused massive floods), this insider said, or SSNNL, or defending them (which the four ex-officials have done) would be totally wrong, the insider said, adding, it would have been better, instead, to look into "what were the directions of NCA, in the recent times to operate the gates of SSD and to operate the power houses during this period.” 
Gujarat, as per the NWDT award, is an implementing and operating agency of Sardar Sarovar Dam, power houses and Main Canal
“Unless NCA communication is made public it is not correct to judge the actions of SSNNL with regard to floods in Bharuch district, as SSNNL is only supposed to carry out the directions of NCA”, the insider said.
At the same time, this insider underlined, “SSNNL should share NCA directions on its website or through a press note, instead of relying on what it calls third party independent engineers.”
The insider explained, “SSP is an interstate project fully governed by the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal (NWDT) Award of 1979. This Award is final and binding on all the four party states, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, and the Union of India, on various aspects relating to the project. The Award is under operation and will remain under operation till it is reviewed in 2024, i.e., after 45 years of its pronouncement.” 
As an inter-state body, according to this insider, NCA has also “established Real-Time Data Acquisition System (RTDAS) comprising of 96 remote stations and a Master Control Centre for the acquisition of real-time hydro-meteorological data” in order to formulate and monitor “reservoir regulation, and also regulation of water releases from Tawa, Bargi and Indira Sagar Projects in Madhya Pradesh and the Sardar Sarovar Project in Gujarat, and also regulated releases of water to SSP ex-Maheshwar project, as per directives of NWDT.”
Quoting NWDT Award’s Clause XIV,  the insider said, it has “set up of machinery for implementing the decision of the tribunal” by constituting NCA, whose job is to includes “storage, apportionment, regulation and control of the Narmada waters; sharing of power benefits from Sardar Sarovar project; regulated releases by Madhya Pradesh”, and so on.
The insider said, NCA is aided by a sub-committee called Sardar Sarovar Reservoir Regulation Committee (SSRRC) under the provisions of the Award with “representatives of all the four participating states, the Central Water Commission (CWC), the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), the Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR) etc., and other expert invitees, in order to ensure “regulated releases from Madhya Pradesh, storages/levels in various dams etc.”
Underlining that “SSRRC/NCA has the duty and responsibility of regulation of gates of SSD”, the insider said, “Gujarat, as per the provisions of the Award, is an implementing and operating agency of the Sardar Sarovar Dam, its power houses and the Main Canal, and the state has to implement the directions of NCA.”

Comments

Unknown said…
Very informative and thought provoking artivle
Mystery man said…
Sir,

Dissolve Central Water Commission under Ministry of Jala Shakti at central government, run by "Chaploos" type of people who have zero knowledge about hydrology and hydraulics. Kick out Indian Administrative Service from Ministry of Jala Shakti.

See how our dam management and water management improves.

TRENDING

Bill Gates as funder, author, editor, adviser? Data imperialism: manipulating the metrics

By Dr Amitav Banerjee, MD*  When Mahatma Gandhi on invitation from Buckingham Palace was invited to have tea with King George V, he was asked, “Mr Gandhi, do you think you are properly dressed to meet the King?” Gandhi retorted, “Do not worry about my clothes. The King has enough clothes on for both of us.”

Stagnating wages since 2014-15: Economists explain Modi legacy for informal workers

By Our Representative  Real wages have barely risen in India since 2014-15, despite rapid GDP growth. The country’s social security system has also stagnated in this period. The lives of informal workers remain extremely precarious, especially in states like Jharkhand where casual employment is the main source of livelihood for millions. These are some of the findings presented by economists Jean Drèze and Reetika Khera at a press conference convened by the Loktantra Bachao 2024 campaign. 

Displaced from Bangladesh, Buddhist, Hindu groups without citizenship in Arunachal

By Sharma Lohit  Buddhist Chakma and Hindu Hajongs were settled in the 1960s in parts of Changlang and Papum Pare district of Arunachal Pradesh after they had fled Chittagong Hill Tracts of present Bangladesh following an ethnic clash and a dam disaster. Their original population was around 5,000, but at present, it is said to be close to one lakh.

Anti-Rupala Rajputs 'have no support' of numerically strong Kshatriya communities

By Rajiv Shah  Personally, I have no love lost for Purshottam Rupala, though I have known him ever since I was posted as the Times of India representative in Gandhinagar in 1997, from where I was supposed to do political reporting. In news after he made the statement that 'maharajas' succumbed to foreign rulers, including the British, and even married off their daughters them, there have been large Rajput rallies against him for “insulting” the community.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Magnetic, stunning, Protima Bedi 'exposed' malice of sexual repression in society

By Harsh Thakor*  Protima Bedi was born to a baniya businessman and a Bengali mother as Protima Gupta in Delhi in 1949. Her father was a small-time trader, who was thrown out of his family for marrying a dark Bengali women. The theme of her early life was to rebel against traditional bondage. It was extraordinary how Protima underwent a metamorphosis from a conventional convent-educated girl into a freak. On October 12th was her 75th birthday; earlier this year, on August 18th it was her 25th death anniversary.

Joblessness, saffronisation, corporatisation of education: BJP 'squarely responsible'

Counterview Desk  In an open appeal to youth and students across India, several student and youth organizations from across India have said that the ruling party is squarely accountable for the issues concerning the students and the youth, including expensive education and extensive joblessness.

What's Bill Gates up to? Have 'irregularities' found in funding HPV vaccine trials faded?

By Colin Gonsalves*  After having read the 72nd report of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on alleged irregularities in the conduct of studies using HPV vaccines by PATH in India, it was startling to see Bill Gates bobbing his head up and down and smiling ingratiatingly on prime time television while the Prime Minister lectured him in Hindi on his plans for the country. 

Following the 3000-year old Pharaoh legacy? Poll-eve Surya tilak on Ram Lalla statue

By Sukla Sen  Located at a site called Abu Simbel in Nubia, Upper Egypt, the eponymous rock temples were created in 1244 BCE, under the orders of Pharaoh Ramesses II (1303-1213 BC)... Ramesses II was fond of showcasing his achievements. It was this desire to brag about his victory that led to the planning and eventual construction of the temples (interestingly, historians say that the Battle of Qadesh actually ended in a draw based on the depicted story -- not quite the definitive victory Ramesses II was making it out to be).

India's "welcome" proposal to impose sin tax on aerated drinks is part of to fight growing sugar consumption

By Amit Srivastava* A proposal to tax sugar sweetened beverages like tobacco in India has been welcomed by public health advocates. The proposal to increase sin taxes on aerated drinks is part of the recommendations made by India’s Chief Economic Advisor Arvind Subramanian on the upcoming Goods and Services Tax (GST) bill in the parliament of India.