Account for Narmada water being used by all, provide details of jobs created by industries using it

narmada water
Narmada water being released at Karai for Sabarmati riverfront in Ahmedabad

Khedut Samaj – Gujarat (KSG) general secretary Sagar Rabari’s open letter to JN Singh,  chief secretary, Government of Gujarat, and SS Rathore, chairman, Sardar Sarovar Namada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL) regarding their press conference on Narmada water, dated January 22, 2018, which, he says, “raises more questions than it answers”:

We have noted the contents of your press conference. Earlier, I wrote an open letter (click HERE) about Narmada waters to the chief minister, a copy of which was sent to you too. We expected that your press conference would put out some data on the availability and usage of the Narmada waters in the public domain, a demand that we had raised; you mentioned no such thing.

You have not mentioned how much water is being supplied to industry; the way various industries and special purpose vehicles (SPVs) mention their water usage, it is hard to believe the figure that the Chairman of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL) stated, i.e. only 0.06 MAF! Which water are industries in Jamnagar and Kutch using? How can anyone, especially farmers, be expected to trust your words?

  • A perusal of the data on rainfall in the Narmada basin (available on Narmada Control Authority [NCA] website) does not show much deficit.
  • Water distribution was: 1.06 MAF for drinking water use; 0.20 MAF for industrial use and 7.74 MAF for agriculture use for 18.45 lakh hectares (ha) of land. Have we irrigated 18.45 lakh ha of land for Kharif and Ravi crop? How much land has been irrigated?
  • Why have both of you, yourself and Chairman of SSNNL, failed to provide details of area, crop and quantity of water for both crops? If the numbers are low then where has all that water gone? We demand an account of water meant for us.
  • If Industries are being supplied only 0.20 MAF, why did Mr BN Navlawala, then adviser to the chief minister, disclose the figure 0.25 MAF to industries in 2014 in a conference in Mahatma Mandir? Was he misleading then or is the Chairman misleading now?

We also want the following data:

  1. How much water (the exact quantity) SSNNL is releasing in the Sabarmati River Front? How much land can be “potentially” irrigated by that quantity of water?
  2. How much water does SSNNL supply to Kensville Golf Course? How much of irrigation “potential” does that carry?
  3. How much water does SSNNL supply to Shantrigram? Who bypassed the engineer’s advice and overruled the decision to not supply water to Shantigram? How much land can be irrigated by that water?
  4. What about Gujarat International Finance Tec (GIFT) City? How much water does it consume?
  5. How many Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) estates and which big industries are getting Narmada water? Why did not you reveal it at the press conference? We need to know the names and quantity of water; please enlighten us.
  6. How much water does Coca Cola get from Narmada water? How much land can be irrigated by that quantity?

We, as a farmers’ organization, request you not to mislead real masters (the people) to please the nominated masters (the political bosses). If you are true to your calling then:

  1. Release the data on Narmada water – availability and usage for each head – drinking water, irrigation and industry.
  2. What were the priorities when Gujarat pleaded its case before Tribunal and Supreme Court? When was it changed? Who changed it? When was it discussed in the Assembly?
  3. Can you and the Chairman say on affidavit that not a single industrial unit is drawing water from the canal illegally?
  4. Is the water supplied to small or big industries legal?
  5. How much quantum of water is lost to evaporation?
  6. If there is transparency in the present government, why is this data not available on the SSNNL website?
  7. Can we jointly check entire canal to find where the pipes fitted during canal construction reach? Let us check it!

We not only demand water, we demand transparency in accounting of water, money spent, employment generated in industries that use Narmada water and water distribution and management. We request you not to harass farmers; we are aware of the massive police force at your disposal to threaten farmers and your ability to summon more paramilitary forces too but, ultimately, this is not good governance, which this government and administration claim to be. Every threat by government/SSNNL reminds us of the World Bank warning of Water Wars! Please avoid it.

The state has brute force at its disposal; we too have a non-violent force, we can invite our brother farmers from other states to participate in non-violent Satyagraha to lift water from canal. Even Amnesty International and International Human Rights Commission too can witness what brute force government uses on farmers in Gujarat. We have not forgotten that brutal lathicharge on Sanand farmers demanding water last year.

Let us reassert: Come clean with true figures; if you want to, we can debate all issues related to Narmada water in the presence of the media.

Please do not compel us to lift water from Narmada canal. Narmada water is farmers’ right, not theft. Farmers are not thieves; institute inquiries into the accounts and doings of the real thieves.

We believe that both of you have nothing to hide, so do please release the data that we are demanding., and come come clean with an account of every drop of Narmada water used before and after the election.

I hope these questions will be answered in the larger interest.

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