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HomePoliticsIndiaGujarat staring at acute water crisis this summer

Gujarat staring at acute water crisis this summer

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Ahmedabad: Gujarat is staring at an acute water crisis this summer apparently due to its over-dependence on the Narmada Dam to meet all its requirements.

Gujarat chief secretary JN Singh recently announced that due to less water available in the Narmada, they will not be able to provide water to industries, and they have asked local bodies to look for alternate sources this summer.

The Narmada River catchment areas, mainly in Madhya Pradesh, received less rainfall last monsoon and the western state has got only 45% of water in the Sardar Sarovar Dam than what it gets in normal monsoon years.

The state government recently asked farmers to skip sowing summer crops as it would not be able to provide irrigation water.

It also plans to cut supply to industries and has asked the administration of cities and villages dependent on the Narmada for drinking purpose to explore local sources.

“Yes, we need to change the perception that we are totally dependent on the Sardar Sarovar project on the Narmada.

The Narmada water should be seen as an add-on of local sources of water and not as the main source,” Gujarat chief minister’s adviser on water management, B N Navalawala, told PTI.

The Sardar Sarovar Dam on the river Narmada has been described as ‘Gujarat’s lifeline’ by leaders of the ruling BJP as it aims to provide drinking water to 131 urban centres and 9,633 villages (53% of total 18,144 state’s villages).

The dam is also expected to facilitate irrigation of 18.54 hectares of land covering 3,112 villages of 73 talukas in 15 districts of Gujarat.

Apart from providing water to so many towns and villages, the state government has embarked on an ambitious Saurashtra-Narmada Avataran Irrigation Yojna (Sauni Scheme) under which it plans to fill up 115 reservoirs of Saurashtra with the Narmada water.

The Sardar Sarovar dam’s foundation stone was laid on 5 April 1961 by the country’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. However, it took 56 years to complete its construction due to court cases and protests by the affected villagers.

The dam was inaugurated on 17 September last year by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

After over 15 good years, when the state administration gradually learned to depend on the Narmada for the water requirements, this year seems to be a wake-up call.

Due to the weak monsoon in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat would only get 4.71 million acre-feet (MAF) water, which is just 45% of the sanctioned supply of 9 MAF awarded by the Narmada Tribunal to the state, as per an official release.

However, Navlawala, who is also heading the central task force for interlinking of rivers, said the state has been time and again exploring all options.

“There is a perception that Gujarat is totally dependent on the Narmada water, but we are working in all directions to mitigate the crisis that has come our way. All cities and towns which are now provided the Narmada water earlier used to have their local source of water,” he said.

Regarding the Kalpsar project, Navalawala said, “As it is a one-of-its-kind project, we have to carry out many surveys which we expect to complete by the end of this year. We will then be able to prepare a detailed project report.”

On the desalination plants, he said the cost of water from it is very high and that water supply can be provided only in a limited sphere.

“But the state government has taken up the work of a plant for desalination of 105 million litres per day and tenders for it will soon be out,” he said.

PTI

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