Chief Minister Vijay Rupani on Saturday reacted to statements made by a Madhya Pradesh minister over not releasing Narmada waters for Sardar Sarovar dam and asked the government of the neighbouring state to stop issuing “threats” to Gujarat over the issue.
“Share of Narmada waters has been decided by the award of (Narmada Water Disputes) Tribunal in 1979. No state has any rights to make any change into it. It is legally binding on four states—Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan. Narmada Control Authority has been set up on orders of the Central government and the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court order is quite clear, that there will be no change in water share till 2024… Based on these orders of the Supreme Court, projects have been executed. I believe that infantile talks of not releasing water do not behove them,” Rupani said while interacting with journalists in Rajkot.
Surendra Singh Baghel, Minister for Narmada Valley Development Authority of Madhya Pradesh government had reportedly said that Gujarat had not released sufficient funds for rehabilitating and resettling project affected people in his state. He had further said that the MP government had ordered a resurvey of project-affected people. He had reportedly said that once the resurvey is over, the MP government would seek more funds from Gujarat and that the MP CM Kamal Nath had already raised the issue with the Supreme Court.
Rupani also said that MP was getting 57 per cent of 250-megawatt electricity generated by canal-head-based power generator at the Narmada dam site.
The Gujarat CM said that rehabilitation and resettlement of Madhya Pradesh people affected by the Narmada dam project had been completed but the MP government was raising the R&R issue now to score political points.
“MP should desist from trying to disturb harmonious atmosphere which has been there for the last 40 years among the four states… Rehabilitation of all the project-affected people has been completed between 2017 and now in conformity of the Supreme Court order. But all of a sudden, through a letter of their chief secretary, the MP government has conveyed that 6,000 families are yet to be rehabilitated. Given the seriousness of the issue raised, rehabilitation sub-group of NCA had convened a meeting on July 12. But no senior officer of MP government attended it. At the meeting of Sardar Sarovar Reservoir Regulation Committee on July 18, MP representatives, in a premeditated move, raised objections to the proceedings of that 61st meeting and cast aspersions on neutrality of an independent body like the NCA. This seems to be motivated by malafide political intentions,” Rupani said.
The Gujarat CM asserted that Gujarat had never acted unilaterally with respect to the Narmada dam project. He said that a meeting of the four participating states had been convened on April 15 this year to discuss the storage of water in Sardar Sarovar dam and states like Maharashtra and Rajasthan had given their consent. Rupani said that filling Sardar Sarovar dam to its full capacity of 138.68 metres was necessary keeping in mind water needs of Gujarat and also to test structural stability of the dam.
“Once the water level reaches 131 metre, it will be gradually raised to 138.68 metre at the rate of one foot per two days. During this period, riverbed powerhouse would also be operated with the help of additional inflow of water in the reservoir. Gujarat has no objection at all in doing this. But it is important to fill the dam up to 138 metre. Gujarat never does anything against interests of MP. It is true, Gujarat also gets 16 per cent share in the electricity generated by the Sardar Sarovar dam. But it is necessary to fill the dam up to 138 metre for the purpose of testing. We could not do it last year due to lack of enough inflow,” said Rupani.
Incidentally, the Gujarat government had filled up the dam till 131 metres in 2017.
The CM asked the MP to stop issuing “threats” to Gujarat over the issue. “Madhya Pradesh issuing such warnings or threats about release of water is not appropriate at all. The Congress government in Madhya Pradesh is doing this with political aims. Gujarat Congress should also weigh in here. This is about interests of Gujarat. The Narmada Control Authority has been set up based on judgements of the Supreme Court and Tribunal and such talk does not behove to Kamal Nathji and ministers of his government. They should stop issuing such threats to Gujarat.”
Narmada dam is lifeline of Gujarat. The state depends heavily on Narmada waters to meet its drinking water requirement as well as irrigation. The state is running a very heavy deficit of rainfall this month and the government has been releasing water in the canal networks to give crop-saving irrigation. In such a scenario, Rupani, said that filling up Narmada dam was very important.
“Let us all respect orders of the Supreme Court and abide by decisions of the Supreme Court and Narmada Control Authority in a harmonious atmosphere and in interest of public. Efforts of indulging in dirty politics look out of context when there is deficiency of rainfall everywhere and when there is shortage of water,” he said.