The Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL) reduced the outflow of water from the reservoir beginning Thursday even as it snapped illegal connections by farmers drawing water from the canal.
Meanwhile, police have been deployed along the Kutch Branch Canal (KBC) and scores of pipelines installed by farmers to draw water from the canal have been removed as the SSNNL is trying to fill up the Tappar dam to meet drinking water requirements of the arid Kutch district.
An SSNNL official told The Indian Express on Friday, “There is still no rainfall in the upper catchment area and to sustain the water that we have with us for a little longer, we have reduced the outflow of water into the main canal”.
“If the situation continues this way with less rain in the neighbouring state and increasing demand in the rain deficit districts here in Gujarat, we are looking at the possibility of a drinking water crisis in the coming days. With the gap between the inflow and outflow of water in the dam widening, there is going to be an acute shortage of water,” said the official on condition of anonymity.
From 6,299 cusecs that flowed out against 3,320 cusecs inflow on Wednesday, the dam authorities reduced the outflow to 2,761 cusecs on Thursday when the inflow was 3,743 cusecs. On Friday, the level of water in the dam was 110.95 metres. The inflow in the dam on Friday was 2,331 cusecs and outflow was 3,106 cusecs.
The live storage in the dam reservoir also fell from 35.36 million cubic metre on Thursday (MCM) to 33.31 MCM on Friday.
As per an SSNNL calculation, if there is no rain in Madhya Pradesh or release of water from MP in a week, the dam will reach its minimum draw down level that is 110.64 metres. Earlier last month, in the meeting of Narmada Control Authority, Gujarat had demanded its due share of water from the river for four months, presuming a normal monsoon.
Of Gujarat’s share of 9 MAF (million acre feet), (when 28 MAF of water is available in the basin), 1.06 MAF is for drinking and industrial purpose and 8.04 is for irrigation. As of today, 5.49 MAF of water is available in the entire Narmada basin which means 1.765 MAF will be available for Gujarat.
As far as the Kutch Branch Canal (KBC) is concerned, it was after orders from the state government, the SSNNL started discharging water in the KBC from August 4 and officers said that as of Friday, 30 million cubic feet (mcft) water had already been released the Tappar dam near Anjar in Kutch.
“Our target is to release 500 mcft water in the dam to meet drinking water requirement for around a month. The KBC is alive and we want to complete the operation as early as possible. We are confident that we shall release the targeted amount of water within a week from now,” Mahesh Patel, chief engineer of Narmada Main Canal (NMC), told The Indian Express.
The 357 kilometre-long KBC offtakes from NMC near Deodar in Banaskantha district and is designed to tail in Mandavi taluka of Kutch after cutting through Banaskantha district and Rapar, Bhuj, Bhachau, Gandhidham, Anjar and Mundra talukas of Kutch. The Tappar dam is located at around 240 km downstream the offtake point of the KBC.
However, north Gujarat and Kutch regions have received very scanty rainfall this monsoon and farmers have not been able to do sowing in many parts of these twin regions. SSNNL officers said that therefore they had to take precautionary measures to ensure that water reaches the Tappar dam for drinking purpose. “While we hope that it will rain in the coming days, we are releasing water in Tappar dam to ensure enough supply of drinking water in Kutch. But since the command area of KBC has not been developed downstream chainage 80, farmers have installed diesel engines and pipelines to draw water. Therefore, as a precautionary measure, we have deployed State Reserve Police along the canal and are also taking help of local police. We have had to remove some pipelines installed in the canal to ensure that drinking water reaches the Tappar dam,” Patel further said.
However, the officer added that there were no reports of any untoward incident along the canal so far.
Kutch gets drinking water through a bulk pipeline originating from the tail of Maliya Branch Canal (MBC) near Maliya in Morbi district. The MBC is fed by Saurashtra Branch Canal (SBC), which in turn offtakes from NMC from near Kadi in Mehsana district. SSNNL officers say that while SBC is alive to maintain flow of drinking water to Rajkot and and a few other districts, MBC is dry. Water was released in MBC for a few days around three weeks ago but has been discontinued since due to lack of much live storage in Narmada dam. Since there is not much water in MBC, the state government has decided to route drinking water to Kutch via KBC.
Kutch is facing drought-like situation mid-monsoon. Rapar and Lakhpat talukas have received almost no rain so far while Abdasa, Bhachau, Mundra and Nakhatrana have recorded around one inch rain so far. Bhuj has registered around two inch and Mandavi three inch. Anjar and Gandhidham are a little better off with four inch rain each. The district as a whole has received merely 11 per cent of its average rainfall so far.
Meanwhile, officers of Gujarat Water Supply and Sewerage Board (GWSSB) said that they are largely dependent on supply of Narmada water to meet the drinking water demand of the district. They said that they are distributing around 400 million litres of water per day (MLD) in the district and out them 275 is supply from the Narmada dam. They said that they are getting around 180 MLD from the bulk water pipeline from Khirai, which in turn is fed by a similar line from Dhanki pumping station on SBC in Surendranagar. Some water is lifted from the Tappar dam and KBC. “We are also sourcing water from Mithid dam in Abdasa taluka and Godhad dam in Lakhpat besides other local souces like tubewells and open wells. The additional water being channelled in the Tappar dam via KBC will act as balance source,” AS Rathva, chief engineer of GWSSB in Kutch said.
As far as rainfall is concerned, Gujarat has been running dry for more than last two weeks, (barring scattered rain at isolated places in a few districts of south Gujarat).
The state is facing a near 45 per cent rainfall deficit this year, which has also impacted the Kharif sowing. The state has reported a 25 per cent less sowing compared to last year. Kutch is the worst-affected with a rainfall deficit of 89 per cent and a sowing deficit of 77 per cent. South Gujarat, which saw maximum rainfall this monsoon, has reported a sowing deficit of 21 per cent and less rainfall by 26 per cent.
In South Gujarat, the Ukai Kakrapar Command Area Irrigation Co-operative Society’s Federation ltd (UKCAICSFL) on Tuesday sent a letter to Gujarat State Federation of Sugar Co-operative society, advising farmers not to delay sowing of sugarcane by a month since water was less in Ukai reservoir. Usually sowing of sugarcane starts from August 15.
Kutch has been worst-affect district in Gujarat, receiving just 11.08 per cent of its average annual rainfall. Among other districts that are below half of the state’s average of 54.65 per cent rainfall are Gandhinagar 18.34 per cent, Surendranagar 20.46, Mehsana 20.85, Ahmedabad 20.91, Patan 21.13, Banaskantha 24.07 per cent and Morbi 26.46.
There was a slight respite for districts of Surendranagar, Chhota Udepur, Mehsana and Ahmedabad that received rainfall on Wednesday night. Dharangadra and Dasada in Surendranagar received more than 60 mm rainfall while Sankheda in Chhota Udepur received 36 mm and Viramgam in Ahmedabad district 32 mm rainfall. Vaghai in Dang received nearly 1 inch (24 mm) rainfall on Thursday followed by Mundra in Kutch recorded 20 mm.
Out of total 203 dams in Gujarat, the state’s average storage percentage is 36.68 per cent. While Kutch has the lowest water storage of 9.6 per cent. Only 12 dams are 100 per cent full.
This summer, Gujarat went through a severe water crisis when the water level in the Narmada dam reservoir fell below 110 metres – the live storage level, forcing the government to draw dead water through the Irrigation By-Pass Tunnel (IBPT) in February to meet drinking water needs.
Warnings were issued to farmers against illegal drawing of water from the Narmada canal after March 15, even as the state issued an advisory to farmers not to sow summer crops as it would not be responsible for losses due to water scarcity.
The drinking water supply from the Narmada, however, was kept going through the IBPT till the levels rose, to fulfil needs of cities, towns and villages till July 31. However, in mid-July SSNNL stopped releasing water from the IBPT, much ahead of its deadline of July 31, due to heavy rainfall in the dam’s catchment areas in Madhya Pradesh.
Another official at SSNNL said, “Water level is lower than what it was the previous year at this point of time, but it is too soon to say. If similar situations persist for another one week, with no rainfall or no release of water from the upstream projects in MP, then the live storage will run out of water but we can still use 1,640 Million Cubic Metre (MCM) of water from the dead storage below the minimum draw down level. Under any circumstance, providing water for drinking purpose and fulfilling drinking water demands will be our first priority. We are hopeful that the base flow will increase after August 15 and between 3rd week of August and 3rd week of September with adequate rainfall, we can achieve the target level of 131 metres for the dam.”