With water flowing into the Narmada dam reservoir reduced to a trickle due to weak rainfall in catchment areas in Madhya Pradesh, the authorities have now been forced to redefine their priority.
Senior officials of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL), who manage canal network across the state, have been instructed to supply water for only drinking purpose and not irrigation.
The SSNNL stopped producing electricity from the dam’s 1,200-MW riverbed power house beginning early June to prevent water from flowing into the sea and thus getting wasted, following instructions from the Narmada Control Authority, and power generation has not resumed yet. It was then decided that water should only be reserved for drinking and irrigation.
Now, officials have been instructed to stop supply of water for irrigation altogether, even as demand for the same arises due to delayed monsoon rains in the state.
Chief engineers covering canal jurisdiction across five zones in the state have been asked by the headquarters to ensure that water being supplied through the canal network is only used for drinking and not””waste”” on irrigation, officials said.
The new directive comes as dam authorities fear that reduced inflow of water into the dam reservoir coupled with continued outflow, could critically lower the level of water, which might create difficulty in meeting demand for drinking water, especially from water-scarce regions of Kutch-Saurashtra.
They hope monsoon rains, which is already delayed by over a month, will improve in coming days to help meet irrigation demand of farmers, many of whom have not yet taken up Kharif sowing. “It has been decided to not supply water for irrigation purpose.
We have been asked to demand Narmada battalion jawan for patrolling purposes in case we fear conflict from farmer groups in the event of curtailing water supply to them,” said chief engineer (dam), R G Kanungo.
The Narmada battalion, a special force created last year to secure the Narmada dam and canal network, has increased patrolling on canals across Limdi in Surendranagar, Madka and Tharad in Banaskantha, and Radhanpur in Patan, among other areas, to prevent water from being lifted by farmers for irrigation, DySP K L Makwana said.
The authorities are now operating only those canal grids which channel water to various municipal corporations and municipalities, among other agencies that take water across to the end user for drinking.
“Due to delayed monsoon this year, there have been demand from farmers all over the state to supply water for irrigation, which we are not in a position to meet. While water was released for irrigation purposes as well, it will not be possible from now on,” a senior-level SSNNL official said.g which an FIR was registered and a trap was laid.