Updated: September 12, 2019 10:17:38 am
As the Gujarat government fills up the Sardar Sarovar Dam to record levels during a bountiful year, the state’s revenues from distributing Narmada waters among farmers, residents and industries more than doubled to Rs 445 crore in the last five years.
The residential sector witnessed the biggest jump and so, the government now plans to install water metres.
For every 1,000 litres of Narmada water supplied, the state government charged Rs 3.14 from each residential consumer and Rs 25.95 from industries, states data tabled in the legislative assembly in response to an unstarred question asked by Niranjan Patel, Congress MLA from Petlad, earlier this year, shows.
In comparison, the government charges Rs 328 from farmers for every hectare of land irrigated by Narmada water. This charge is imposed once every irrigation cycle.
Gujarat government has told the state legislature in a written reply that it earned Rs 445.87 crore during 2017-18 by distributing Narmada water among farmers, residents and industries in the state. This income for the state government increased by 102 per cent compared to Rs 220.90 crore that it earned during 2013-14.
“Currently, the water level in the Sardar Sarovar Dam is at a record 136.64 metres. If more water is available, then the state government can easily reach out to all segments that consume Narmada waters,” said an official of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) who did not wish to be quoted as he is not authorised to speak to the media.
The figures tabled in the state legislature also show that the income for the Gujarat government from Narmada waters have steadily risen during the five-year period, with the maximum contribution coming from the residential segment where the revenues clocked have shot up by 120 per cent to Rs 308.71 crore during 2017-18 (SEE TABLE). Similarly, the income from agricultural consumers rose by just 12 per cent during this period. Interestingly, the revenue from industrial segment rose from Rs 57.63 crore in 2013-14 to Rs 102.73 crore in 2015-16. Thereafter, it fell sharply to Rs 59.55 crore in 2017-18.
When asked about the unusual dip in revenues from the industries using Narmada waters, the SSNNL official said, “The main reason is that Gujarat Water Infrastructure Limited (GWIL) – a state government arm – doesn’t regularly inform SSNNL about the purpose for which the Narmada water is being used. Sometimes there is a lack of clarity and this creates issue in billing.”
The Gujarat’s water grid supplies 3,000 million litres of water per day – sourced from various rivers – to 47 million people in the state living in 11,220 villages and 171 towns. As far as Narmada river is concerned, SSNNL sits on top of the water grid and is primarily responsible for diverting the water from river to the main canals. Being a bulk supplier, SSNNL supplies water in huge quantities to GWIL which operates 2,684 km of bulk pipelines spread largely in Central, North and Saurashtra region of the state. GWIL in turn supplies to GWSSB (Gujarat Water Supply and Sewerage Board) which operates 1.20 lakh kilometers of distribution network which includes providing water to urban local bodies and to WASMO (Water and Sanitation Management Organisation) which as a facilitator for providing water to villages.
Sagar Rabari, head of Gujarat Khedut Ekta Samiti, a farmers’ body said, “A lot of Narmada water meant for agriculture is being diverted to industries in Gujarat. However, the government, fearing public outcry, has been trying to hide the data regarding the quantum of water allotted to industries in the state.”
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