Kapil Dave TNN
Gandhinagar: Where is half the water released from the main Narmada canal disappearing? The Gujarat government does not have any record to show where 50% of the water released went in reply to a query filed under the RTI Act.
Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL) officials blame farmers for theft but SSNNL sources say there could be a politician-bureaucratfarmer nexus, which is diverting water for industrial use.
In 2012-13, 8,469.72 million cubic meter (mcm) of water was released from the main canal — of which 3,302.29mcm was released for agricultural use while 1,624.25mcm was given to Gujarat Water Infrastructure, Gujarat Water Supply and Sewage Board, Sujlam Suflam canal, the water resources department, Ahmedabad municipal corporation and other cities. Some of it also went to industries.
But, SSNNL does not have any account of where 3543.18mcm has gone. PA Totalani, superintendent engineer, said, “Some loss is due to evaporation and release of water for other purposes like the Sabarmati riverfront. But, major loss is due to theft by farmers. We face pressure from various sources when we become strict.” However, a senior SSSNL officer said, “Besides theft by farmers, a huge quantity may be going to industries.”
Times View: Make use of water transparent
If Narmada water is Gujarat’s lifeline, its use should be made as transparent as the water itself. The state government should come clean on exactly who is using the water and how much. The project was conceived and executed in the interest of farmers of Gujarat. The fears that industry is being given priority should be dispelled.