Why authorities are unwilling to accept the demand to account for Narmada water being misused


By Sagar Rabari*

Having checked the details of water levels in the Sardar Sarovar dam (available at and accessed from nca.gov.in/dsr.htm ) this is the data that has emerged:

(1)    The full reservoir level (or danger level) of the Sardar Sarovar dam is 138.68 meters.

(2)   The water levels at various times in the last 2 months are as under:

MCM: Million Cubic Meters

According to the above data, on 1st of December 2017 SSNL had 1946 MCM water available and the SSNNL knew very well the extent of water Gujarat needs for drinking purpose till next monsoon. The Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL) used 967 MCM water in a month, so at the end of December 2017 SSNL had 979 MCM live storage. When the Chief Minister declared the water crisis for the first time after election on 12th January 2018, the water level in Sardar Sarovar dam was 115.94 meter and live storage was 638 MCM. The latest data available on the website, of 25th January 2018, shows a water level of 113.69 meters and live storage of merely 328 MCM.

However, according to data available on website, the water level on 1st July 2017 was 114.97 meters at the beginning of monsoon season that reached 120.69 meters on 31st July, an increase of 5.72 meters in a month! This water level increased to 124.43 on 31st of August, 2017, an increase of 3.74 meters! On 1st of October, 2017, with addition of September rain water, the level reached 130.59 meters on 1st of October; since then the water level started declining. At the end of October, i.e. 31st, water level was 128.69 meters, 1.9 meters lower than overall level but, 4.26 meters higher than previous (31st August level) level. On 31st November 2017, the water level fell to 124.22 meters, implying that SSNL released 4.47 meters water.

On 31st December 2017, the water level fell to 118.33 meters, a decline of 5.89 meters, and on 12th December, when the campaign officially ended, the water level at the dam site fell to 115.95 meters.

A simple math calculation reveals that during the Assembly election months of October and November, the SSNNL played a very mischievous role on behalf of the ruling party; it agreed to the misuse of precious water to appease the ruling party, perhaps at its bidding. During the two-and-a-half months of electioneering, the SSNNL has generously but altogether unnecessarily released water from the dam for ‘inaugurations’ of schemes and vote catching ploys. Not surprisingly the water level fell from 130.59 to 115.95 meters, i.e. the ruling party and the SSNNL together wasted 14.64 meters of precious water, snatching it from the people of Gujarat.

An important fact to note here is that September, October and November are officially monsoon months. Agriculture, the sector that is the biggest beneficiary of the water, does not utilise much water during these months. Hence our repeated query – Where has the water vanished?

Alas, neither the government nor the SSNNL is able or ready to do this simple math!

The authorities may not be willing to accept people’s demand of detailed account of water they misused but the farmers are determined to force them to reveal the account or provide them water that has been misused by SSNL and the BJP to woo voters.


A South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANRDP) News Bulletin helps our claim that water has been wasted in monsoon to celebrate Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday and win election in Gujarat:

As per the Daily Status Reports of the Narmada Control Authority, inflow into Sardar Sarovar dam suddenly jumped from 495 cumecs (Cubic Meters per second) on Sept 12, to 2518 cumecs on Sept 13, 2383 cumecs on Sept 14 and 2210 cumecs on Sept 15, 2384 cumecs on Sept 16, in anticipation of the birthday, so that when Narendra Modi visits the dam site to formally declare the project complete, the reservoir is seen to have substantial water. Expectedly, SSP water level rose from 126.19 m to 128.5 m by 8 am on Sept 15. How was this made possible?

Madhya Pradesh depletes its water storage so that SSP looks full on September 17? The increased inflow into SSP was made possible only by increased outflow from upstream Madhya Pradesh dams like Indira Sagar Project (ISP) on Narmada. Indira Sagar Project  (ISP), incidentally is India’s largest reservoir in terms of storage capacity.

So the ISP storage level which was already very low (about 33%) on Sept 11 with monsoon almost coming to close, was depleted by further 450 MCM  from Sept 11 to Sept 16 (date for which latest information is available), while SSP water level rose by 750 MCM during the same period. All this, so that water level at SSP could look more respectable on Sept 17. It is not known why Madhya Pradesh is ready to lose water from its low storage levels (in fact, the water level at Omkareshwar Project on Narmada is below Minimum Draw Down level throughout this period).

Will Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister and MP Govt be held accountable for this by the media, judiciary and the people?

Low power generation at Narmada dams The abnormally low water levels at ISP and Omkareshwar is also apparent from the abysmally low Power Generation this year. According to CEA (Central Electricity Authority) figures, the 1000 MW ISP produced just 2.97% power in August 2017 compared to Aug 2016 and 520 MW Omkareshwar generated 8.3% power in Aug 2017 compared to same month last year. For the period April to Aug, ISP generated 34.45% compared to the power generated in the same period last year and figure for Omkareshwar for the same period is 42.07%. Funnily, Madhya Pradesh has further sacrificed its water and power availability from these projects for SSP to have respectable storage when the Prime Minister visits the Dam on Sept 17!

Even at the Sardar Sarovar dam, the 1200 MW River Bed Power House has produced no power at all during August and September. The 250 MW Canal Head Power House too has produced in Aug 2017 21.65% of power compared to the same month last year. For the period Apr-Aug 2017, CHPH has produced 60.95% of power it produced during same period previous year. This means that to fill up the reservoir, even Gujarat is being kept thirsty for water!

This is partly the result of Narmada Valley receiving about 22% deficit monsoon as on Sept ember 16, 2017.

*General Secretary, Khedut Samaj – Gujarat

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