With rainfall being deficient this monsoon, the authorities have already started the inter-basin transfer of water, and the amount of water drawn from Mahisagar river and pumped into the Narmada Main Canal, which has been supplying water for irrigation to standing kharif crops in rain-deficient districts of north Gujarat, Saurashtra and central Gujarat, has doubled in the first three months — July to September — of the 2018-19 water-year.
“Usually at this time of the year, water availability has never been a concern. But last year with water in Narmada dam hitting record lows, and this year with the monsoon being deficient, we have continued to draw water from Mahi river system and supply it to other parts of the state at the very beginning of the water-year,” said a senior official of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL), adding “it is an excellent example of inter-basin transfer of water”.
The state government has already declared 16 talukas that have received less than 125 mm rainfall this monsoon as “scarcity-hit.” These include talukas in Kutch, Banaskantha, Patan and Ahmedabad districts. Large portions of these districts fall under the Narmada Command Area where water for irrigation and drinking purposes are provided through the Narmada Main Canal.
Compared to the 0.036 million acre feet of water (MAF) drawn between May and June 2018 — when water from Mahisagar river was lifted from the Mahi right bank canal and poured into the Narmada Main Canal for the first time ever — this year over 0.06 MAF of water has already been drawn between July-September 2018 after many districts received less than 60 per cent of their annual rainfall this monsoon.
The Indian Express earlier reported how inter-basin transfer of water had begun at Padal village of Kheda district where the Narmada canal, flowing from south to north, cuts across the Mahisagar right bank canal, that flows from east to west. About 16 pumps have been installed at this spot to lift water.
“In order to save the kharif crops, over 3,377 cusecs of Narmada water is being supplied to different parts of the state under Sujalam Sufalam, SAUNI, Fatehwadi and Kharicut canal projects as per the decision taken by the state government. There are several smaller projects where we are supplying water from Narmada canal. The water-balancing is crucial in a year when monsoon rain has been deficient.
In order to ensure that areas under the Narmada command area do not fall short of water during the remaining part of the year, we are trying to refurbish by lifting water from Mahi,” said an official of SSNNL, adding that on an average 600 cusecs of water is being lifted from Mahi and poured into the Narmada canal.
This has been possible because of plenty of water in Kadana dam built upstream on the Mahisagar river. The full reservoir level of the dam is 127.71 metres, while the present water level on Saturday stood at 126.7 metres. Similarly, water level in Wanakbori dam stands at 99 per cent. In comparison, Narmada dam has just 67 per cent water.