Gujarat farmers may face hard times after cut in Narmada water supply

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Gandhinagar: Gujarat is staring at an irrigation water shortage for this summer because of a cut in the supply of Narmada water.

Low water availability in the Narmada dam due to deficient rainfall in its catchment area in Madhya Pradesh could spark a water crisis in Gujarat this year.

As a result, the state government has already announced that it would not supply water for irrigation and the entire stock available will be reserved for drinking water in Saurashtra and north Gujarat regions, which are highly dependent on water from Narmada canals.

On Monday, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state government dismissed allegations by some farmers’ organizations and the opposition Congress party that it was trying to divert farm waters to industries and mismanaged Narmada waters.

Chief secretary J.N. Singh said the Sardar Sarovar Reservoir Regulatory Committee (SSRRC), in a meeting on 10 January, had decided to allot 4.71 million acres feet (MAF) to Gujarat, as against 9 MAF that is to be allotted to the state in 2017-18. SSRRC, a part of the Narmada Control Authority (NCA), decides the allocation of the river waters for the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

“This is perhaps the worst year for Gujarat in terms of Narmada water allocation. We have not increased allocation for industries. In fact, out of 0.2 MAF for industries we are limiting it to 0.06 MAF for industries. The drinking water remains intact at 0.86 MAF. The remaining (3.36 MAF) of Narmada waters is for irrigation. We are tapping other sources of water as well,” said Singh.

He said that the cut in supply was due to less inflow of water from upstream water sources in Madhya Pradesh. Out of the total 28 MAF that is to be received by the four states, only 14.55 MAF has been allotted.

In 2016-17 Gujarat had received 9.34 MAF of Narmada waters. Madhya Pradesh, which received 18.94 MAF in 2016-17 has been allotted only 9.55 MAF for 2017-18.

Gujarat government usually supplies Narmada waters for irrigation till June before the onset of the monsoon.

“This year we will not be supplying Narmada waters for monsoon. As per SSRRC norms, Gujarat government is not bound to supply water for summer crops. However we have been giving to farmers in the past whenever there was additional water in this period,” said S.S. Rathore, chairman and managing director of Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, a Gujarat government-owned company implementing the ambitious Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) in the western state.

Both Singh and Rathore said that they do not foresee any major shortfall in crop production as other water sources would be available for irrigation.livemint