Ahmedabad: Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel has written to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani to condemn the state government’s announcement that no water from the Sardar Sarovar Dam will be provided for irrigation from 15 March, a move that has come as a blow to the agrarian community ahead of sowing of the summer crop.
“This move will have a devastating effect on the livelihoods of lakhs of farmers across Gujarat,” wrote Patel, a Rajya Sabha member representing Gujarat. “Various news reports and farmer organisations have reported that the water meant for irrigating the next season’s crops is now being diverted for industry, despite industrial use being the last in the ladder of Narmada Project beneficiaries.”
“May I remind the state government of the words of India’s incumbent Prime Minister, who is also the former chief minister, who said that the Sardar Sarovar Project was for the benefit of the farmers. We sincerely hope that these weren’t empty promises…” Patel wrote in his letter dated 17 January.
The Gujarat government last Friday appealed to farmers to skip sowing of the summer crop unless they had alternate sources of irrigation as water from the Narmada will be diverted for drinking purposes. A circular issued by Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd said water storage in dams under the Narmada command area has fallen by 45 percent—the lowest in 15 years—on account of less monsoon rainfall in Madhya Pradesh.
The Khedut Samaj (Gujarat) sent a letter to Rupani earlier this week seeking clarification on a number of points—from the shortfall in the Sardar Sarovar Dam to the supply of water to industry and farmers, employment created by the project and even how much water was diverted for the Adani Group’s Shantigram residential project in Ahmedabad.
“Water from Karjan irrigation project goes to industries, Shetrunji reservoir water is not available for irrigation, Narmada water is also for the industry. All water projects, meant for irrigation, but it is industry which enjoys priority on water now! Farmers in Fatewadi and Shetrunji take recourse to agitation, you need to agitate to get the Narmada waters, people go on indefinite hunger strikes, lose faith in the democratic system,” Sagar Rabari, general secretary of Khedut Samaj (Gujarat), wrote in the letter.