“Height of Narmada dam should not be raised”
by Gargi Parsai in the Hindu

Gujarat didn’t use water from project: South Asia network

Mismanagement led to under utilisation
Gujarat has no infrastructure to use SSP water

NEW DELHI: Even as the Narmada Control Authority is looking at the rehabilitation claims of States affected by the Narmada dam in Gujarat, the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People has said that there is no case for raising the height of the Sardar Sarovar Project and that it should be frozen at the current height of 121.92 metres.
Several thousand people being displaced by the dam in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat are seeking proper rehabilitation and resettlement.

Questioning the demand for raising the dam height to the next and final level of 138.68 metres, the Network said Gujarat could not utilise 93.55 per cent of the water that was available to it from the Sardar Sarovar Project in 2007. It obtained this information under the Right to Information Act from the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited, the Gujarat government organisation in charge of the controversial project.
“State has no case”

Himanshu Thakkar of the Network asserted that Gujarat had no case for increasing the dam height from the current level, as it had failed to utilise the available water.
“According to the information received, Gujarat had passed 19.91 BCM (billion cubic metres) of water through its Canal Head Power House and River Bed Power House during 2007. Of this, water available to Gujarat at the SSP, Gujarat could use only 1.285 BCM. This means that Gujarat could not utilise 93.55 per cent of the water.”

Important implications

“These figures have many important implications. First, this means that Gujarat has no case. Secondly, it is the mismanagement of the project by Gujarat that is responsible for this abysmal under-utilisation of the country’s costliest irrigation project ever. 93.55 per cent of the water available from the project could not be utilised basically because Gujarat has yet to build the canal infrastructure that is necessary for making such utilisation possible. Instead of focussing on optimum utilisation of the water made available, the Gujarat government has been focussing on just increasing the height of the dam and unjustly submerging lands and [displacing] people.”

As per the statistics made available by the SSNNL, as against the total water share of Gujarat and Rajasthan of 11,718.345 MCM (million cubic metres) under the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal (NWDT) Award, Gujarat received at the SSP in 2005, 2006 and 2007 much more quantum of water. In 2005, the water available at the SSP was 12,506.55 MCM, in 2006 it was 19,294.57 and in 2007 it was 19,909.78 MCM.

“These figures clearly underscore that Gujarat has no case for increasing the height of the dam and irreversibly submerging more people and fertile agriculture lands. If the height of the SSP dam is frozen at the current height, Gujarat and Rajasthan will continue to get more than their share of water as stipulated by the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal.”

“These figures also indicate that the SSP would take a long time — at least another decade — to be completed. And yet the SSP has been given more money under the AIBP (Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme) than any other project in the country, right from 1996-97, the year the AIBP was launched. The SSP should have never been included under the AIBP, since the latter was supposed to be meant for last mile projects,” Mr. Thakkar said.

“It is very important that the lobby behind the SSP is made responsible and answerable for these issues. The lobby includes the Union Ministry of Water Resources, and the States of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, among others,” he alleged.