Demanding answers from the Gujarat government and blaming it for creating a man-made disaster to “fawn over one person”, Aam Aadmi Party Gujarat general secretary Sagar Rabari questioned why the authorities had increasingly decreased the water release from the Sardar Sarovar dam starting the first week of September, despite rising demand for water from farmers.
Opposition parties Congress and AAP have alleged that water was held back in the dam to “please” Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his birthday on September 17.
Rabari highlighted that the Narmada Control Authority (NCA), which publishes daily reports around 10 am on the status of the nearly 200 dams across the state, had stopped publishing the reports after September 6, despite updating the website last on September 16.
Lambasting the opacity around the data, Rabari said, “…there is no data available on the website after September 6, while the website mentions ‘site updated’ last on September 16…but did not upload the data regarding dams. The government intentionally hid this data so that they can make one person happy by adopting ‘sycophant’ (chaplusi) methods… The authorised NCA data of September 6 notes 133.98 metres as the water level (at Sardar Sarovar Dam) with 4,295 million cubic metres of water stored, making the reservoir 75 per cent full…How much of the remaining 25 per cent was filled subsequently, that data is neither available on the website nor has Rushikeshbhai (Patel, BJP minister and Gujarat government spokesperson) addressed this yesterday.”
Highlighting the August data, he noted that the water level at the Sardar Sarovar dam was at 130.13 metres with 3,252 million cubic metre water stored at 57 per cent of the storage capacity. “Between September 1 and 6, water storage increased from 71 per cent to 75 per cent. Additionally, rainfall figures are not being announced by the government. We are only being told ‘we had a lot of rainfall’ but not how many millimetres of rainfall occurred in the Narmada catchment area. Only Rushikeshbhai and God knows what was the storage capacity of Sardar Sarovar as on September 15,” Rabari continued his attack.
With farmers hardpressed for irrigation water, Rabari pointed out that the outflow discharge from the dam decreased to 865.8 cubic metres per second (cumec) on September 1 against 948.6 cumec released on August 1.
He also claimed that farmers were the most in need of water on August 31.
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“…to please the dear leader, water serving lakhs of Gujarat farmers, were depleted from canals to start filling up the dam… This increase in dam-stored water from 71 per cent to 75 per cent (between September 1 and 6) is the water stolen from what was rightfully the farmers’ water. Look at the pattern, the outflow discharge is decreasing and not increasing as per the need,” Rabari alleged, while highlighting that the outflow discharge from the dam further reduced to 778.9 cumec on September 6 compared to September 1.
Seeking an account from the state government on its inaction in preventing the floods, Rabari further demanded to know what the state government did for 12 hours prior to the Omkareshwar dam release reaching Sardar Sarovar dam, and also what the state government did in the past one-and-a-half days when it saw the receipt of heavy rainfall. He also demanded as to why the water release was not planned for drier areas in the state.
“When the government knew that there was heavy rain in the highlands when water was being released from Omkareshwar, what did the government do in those 36 hours? Rushikeshbhai has not said that how much water was released into canals and how much of it were released to rivers such as Sabarmati, Banas, Saraswati and Rupen where, until September 15, there was no rain…why wasn’t the water released in these dry areas?” he asked.