Paucity of water in Narmada has forced Gujarat government to slash the annual quota allocated to industries. The move comes days after the state government declared its inability to provide irrigation water to farmers for the summer crop. Though the state government Monday claimed that there will be no cut in drinking water “as of now,” urban and rural local bodies have been asked to tap “supplementary sources” of drinking water as summer approaches.
“There is less water in the entire Narmada basin. Overall this is one of the worst years… Unfortunately, this is one of the weak years… It will cause discomfort to everyone this year in Gujarat, which is heavily dependent on Narmada water,” said Chief Secretary J N Singh, while making a presentation on the paucity of water in the Sardar Sarovar dam.
“Our first and foremost priority in Gujarat is to provide drinking water. It will be more or less the same that we are currently providing… The small and big towns that are getting Narmada water will continue to get it, but they have been asked to look for supplementary sources of water. No water cut will be imposed as of now,” he added.
For making adequate quota of drinking water available, Singh said the state government will explore the possibility of getting water from Kadana dam in Mahisagar district and French wells. Municipal corporations, he said, have been asked to tap traditional sources of water and underground water.
According to Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) officials, Gujarat is expected to get only 4.71 MAF (million acre feet) water from Narmada in 2017-18 — almost half of 9.34 MAF it got in 2016-17. SSNNL’s Chairman and Managing Director S S Rathore, who was present at the briefing, said that for industries, the usage has been limited to 0.06 MAF against 0.2 MAF. While 1.29 MAF is being given for drinking purposes, the remaining 3.36 MAF will go to agriculture, he added. SSNNL officials said industries have been informed about the cut.
The state government has already declared that it will not be able to provide Narmada water for irrigation after March 15. The Chief Secretary also warned farmers against “unauthorised lifting of water” from Narmada canals.
Rathore, however, said the shortage of Narmada water will have “nil” impact on agriculture and industrial production. “It will have nil effect. We have given enough water for Kharif and Rabi seasons,” he said.
Asked if Narmada water was wasted by diverting it to Sabarmati Riverfront project in Ahmedabad and during inauguration ceremonies of multiple Sauni projects in Saurashtra, leading to the current crisis, Singh said “water flowing into Sabarmati is very minuscule”.