Ahmedabad: Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani announced on Friday that the imminent water crisis has been “averted” with the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) allowing the state to use the “dead water” of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada dam this summer.
The additional 1 million acre feet (MAF) of water from the reservoir will make up the shortfall in the “supply of drinking water to 10,000 villages and 167 urban bodies until July 31”, Rupani said. However, the state will have to compensate its partner states for any loss of power-generation potential.
“In a big relief to the people of Gujarat, Narmada Control Authority (NCA) has announced to allocate seepage and dead water of Narmada river to Gujarat for drinking water purpose during the upcoming summer,” Rupani said.
Dead or inactive storage refers to water in a reservoir that cannot be drained by gravity, and needs to be pumped out into the canals. This water lies below the minimum drawdown level, which is set at 110m for the Narmada dam. The water levels are currently hovering at about 111m.
The additional 1 MAF will be directed to the state via a special Irrigation By-pass Tunnel (IBPT), which enables water to be drawn even if the water level drops another 15m. However, engaging the IBPT means will mean that the water left in the reservoir is inadequate to meet its hydro-electric power-generation potential. Hence, any state wishing to access this water needs to have the permission of the NCA.
Chief secretary JN Singh, incharge additional chief secretary (Narmada department), MS Dagur, and SS Rathore, chairman and managing director of Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL) were among those who presented Gujarat’s case for more Narmada water before the NCA.
In December, SSNNL stated that Gujarat would only receive 4.71 MAF of Narmada water due to “deficient rains” in the catchment area, prompting the state government to cut off Narmada water to farmers for the summer crop. The government later also suggested that drinking water supplies might be adversely affected in both urban and rural areas.