The Sardar Sarovar Dam is considered the lifeline of Gujarat.
The Sardar Sarovar Dam is considered the lifeline of Gujarat.(Photo Courtesy: YouTube)
  • 1. What's the Extent of the Crisis?
  • 2. Is Insufficient Rainfall in Madhya Pradesh a Factor?
  • 3. Are Political Gains Responsible for the Reduced Water...
  • 4. Is the Structure of the Dam Controversial?
Gujarat Water Crisis: Why Narmada’s Water Levels Are Low This Year

After inaugurating it in September 2017, the government highlighted the potential of the the Sardar Sarovar dam to irrigate almost 1.8 million hectares of agricultural land in Gujarat.

Why then have the farmers in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state been banned from drawing water from the Narmada river (starting 15 March), just six months after their hopes were raised by the PM? Did it happen because the “BJP used the water stocked in dams from last year’s monsoon to fill up Sabarmati, so that PM Narendra Modi can land his seaplane” and “light a diya in Rajkot’s Aji dam” prior to the 2017 Gujarat elections? Or was it because of deficient rainfall in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh, which reduced the share of water Gujarat would get?

The Quint explores.

  • 1. What's the Extent of the Crisis?

    Not only have the farmers been banned from drawing water, but to prevent illegal lifting security arrangements have been made in Kevadia in Narmada district, which shares its borders with Madhya Pradesh. The water level in the reservoir dropped to 105.5 metres in mid-March from 124.02 metres in December, last year. This is close to the critical mark in the beginning of summer. For now, the state government is busy coming up with plans to ensure there is enough drinking water for the minimum 25 million people in the state, who rely on it. Locals said the dam had higher water levels, however, when the gates of the Sardar Sarovar were lowered on 17 June 2017, water levels began to fall.

    The Quint assessed the Central Water Commission data, and found out that not only was the Sardar Sarovar dam getting dry but 27 reservoirs in Gujarat and Maharashtra also had lower than average water storage levels.

    Data showed that water storage levels in June 2017 were better than what they were at the same time the previous year, in July 2017 they fell down to being equal to those in the previous year, and in August 2017, fell to being lesser than what they were at the same time during the previous year. There can be seen a consistent dip in water storage levels in the months that the gates were lowered.

    The CWC report also states that, “the storage during current year (2018) is less than the storage of last year and is also less than the average storage of last ten years during the same period”.

    The water in the reservoir was spread across 214 km during monsoon, while currently it stretches across less than 90 km. There are stretches of the canal network which are also currently parched. Dead storage water is being used for utilities. But, how did we get here?

    Also Read : Why Is Narmada’s Sardar Sarovar Dam Controversial?


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