MP, Gujarat on collision over Narmada water

Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat are heading towards collision course over sharing of the Narmada water from the Sardar Sarovar Dam. (PTI Photo)

Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat are heading towards collision course over sharing of the Narmada water from the Sardar Sarovar Dam.

The Kamal Nath government has sought Union Water Resources Ministry’s intervention to resolve the dispute arising over Gujarat government’s pressure on Madhya Pradesh to release 4,000 million cubic meters (MCM) water for testing the gates of the Sardar Sarovar Dam. The MP government‘s stand is that it has already released 1,600 MCM and cannot release more water.

Besides, the Kamal Nath government has complained to the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) in New Delhi that Gujarat has flouted the 40-year-old Narmada Water Distribution Tribunal accord by denying Madhya Pradesh 57% share of the 1,200 MW power generated by the Sardar Sarovar Dam.

In three letters to the NCA chairman, Madhya Pradesh chief secretary S R Mohanty has pointed out that Gujarat has neither supplied power nor paid compensation in lieu of power as was agreed upon in the accord.

As a result, the MP government is forced to spend an additional Rs 229 crore to purchase power, the letters said.

On this demand, Gujarat Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel has clarified that since no hydel power was generated from the dam for the last two years, sharing electricity with MP was out of the question.  

The Gujarat government has contended that for testing gates of the dam it is essential that the dam is filled to its optimum level of 138.68 meters.  However, MP’s Narmada Valley Development minister Surendra Baghel says Gujarat is getting water which is due to the state as per the accord.

The minister said releasing additional water for the dam is fraught with the grave risk of inundating 6,000 families of 76 villages in the catchment area.

"Until displacement of the affected families is completed, additional water cannot be released”, he asserted.

Both the states are at loggerheads after the MP government denied a request of the Gujarat government to release additional water from the dam. Later, the Gujarat government stopped generating power from the river bed powerhouse (RBPH).

MP’s worry is that the relief and rehabilitation (R&R) work of thousands of families affected by the project is pending, and if Gujarat fills the dam to its capacity — a height of 138 meters, it would further submerge the villages in MP — leading to the displacement of the people without R&R.

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