The Gujarat government will back a petition, filed by two outfits in the Supreme Court, seeking release of 1,500 cusecs of water daily from Sardar Sarovar dam into downstream Narmada river till the Gulf of Khambhat near Bharuch. This was announced by Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel here on Monday.
Patel said that the state government would file its affidavit before the apex court supporting the petition filed by Narmada Pradushan Nivaran Samiti and Bharuch Citizen Council.
In their petition, the two organisations have demanded release of more water into the Narmada downstream on the ground that drying up of the riverbed was causing immense damage to the environment, agriculture, and local industries in the region, besides also affecting availability of drinking water.
Earlier, the two outfits had also approached the National Green Tribunal (NGT) with the same request. However, the NGT had reportedly asked the petitioners to approach Narmada Control Authority (NCA) since it was meant only for the issues related to the Narmada river and its water.
“After 1978 when the Narmada water award was announced, the Gujarat government had requested the Centre to release 1,200-1,500 cusec water daily across the year into downstream Narmada from Sardar Sarovar dam to keep the Narmada river alive and to save the flora and fauna of the river and to prevent salinity ingress… However, unfortunately, at that time, it was decided to release only 600 cusec water. This 600 cusec water that is being released in the river downstream is from the share of all the (partner) states,” Patel said.
The Deputy CM said that due to less rainfall coupled with less availability of water in the river in the recent past, the downstream has dried up leading to ingress of 35,000 cusec seawater into the river near Bharuch as far as 40-50 km during the high tides, twice a day.
According to Patel, on full moon day, over 1 lakh cusec of sea water enters Narmada river, causing salinity ingress and heavy damage to the flora and fauna and environment.
Patel said that the state government had asked the NCA to increase the release of water in the river downstream from current 600 cusec to 1,500 cusec. “However, Madhya Pradesh and other (partner) states, had opposed (the Gujarat government’s demand),” Patel said.
“Gujarat government shares the feelings of the organisations that 1,500 cusec water be released into Narmada downstream… We will demand that 1,500 cusec water be released and that water must be deducted from the total share of water of the four partner states,” Patel added.