Posted online: Saturday, July 02, 2005 at 0239 hours IST
AHMEDABAD, JULY 1: With the rainwater swirling as a flood, the Gujarat government began relief and rescue but there is one thing they can do nothing about: the colossal wastage of water at the overflowing Sardar Sarovar Project dam. Water that could have quenched the thirst of the parched regions of the state.
‘‘I am helpless, tell me what to do,’’ says Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) MD P K Laheri. ‘‘All this water could have been saved. Two months of storage in the dam has been lost. If the level had been five metres higher, the curve of power generation would have been optimum. We could have filled up reservoirs in scarcity-prone areas of Surendrangar and Banaskantha, or eleased water into more rivers like the Sabarmati. We wanted to do all this in this monsoon. It is unfortunate... we will have to wait for the next season,’’ he says in despair.
The dam is now 110.64 metres high. Had the state government got permission to raise it to 121.94 metres, it would have held the water, but the problem is that Madhya Pradesh has to complete rehabilitation of the project-affected families (PAFs). All efforts by Laheri to ensure this have come to nought.
With Thursday’s heavy rain in the catchment areas of the state, flood water was flowing 1.25 metres above the dam height. Nigam officials estimate that 35,000 cusecs is flowing away. ‘‘A thousand cusecs flowing for 24 hours amounts to 250 crore litres of water — so you can imagine how much water we have been losing in the last few days,’’ says executive engineer Ashok Gajjar, who has been working on the dam in Kevadia for the past 20 years.
He says this water could have fed 4,000 parched villages or irrigated seven lakh hectares — it’s now going into the sea.Dam and irrigation officials say villages in Jamnagar and north Gujarat face a drinking water shortage and of the three turbines only two are working, at minimum output.
Noted agriculture expert and former Union Minister Y K Alagh hits the nail on the head. ‘‘Villages in Kutch, Saurashtra and north Gujarat are facing water shortage and here water is flowing away from the very dam that is supposed to provide water to these villages...If nothing, you could have saved and released this water into dry rivers. It would have been excellent for recharging the groundwater table.’’
The state agriculture department planned to bring 10 lakh hectares more under cultivation this monsoon if proper irrigation was provided. State Director of Agriculture R A Sarasia says: ‘‘At present 35 per cent agriculture land in the state gets irrigation...we want to increase it to 50 per cent. This monsoon we were hoping that we could bring 10 hectares of new land under cultivation by providing irrigation from the Narmada canal. I think that will have to wait now.’’
Secretary, Narmada (Narmada and Water Resources Dept) S.J. Desai, regrets this wastage. ‘‘We are unable to capitalise on such good rain. The repercussions of being unable to save this water will be felt next summer in the scarcity-prone areas.’’
Since June 1, Gujarat has received 414 mm rainfall—48 per cent of the state average of 863 mm. South Gujarat is facing floods with heavy rain in the last three days. Valsad district has received 1249 mm of rainfall, Vadodara 4,109 mm and Surat 1,490 mm.
Courtesy : Indian Express - Saturday, July 02, 2005