Skip to main content

New book on Narmada is quiet on reports to decommand 4 lakh hectares

By Rajiv Shah
In sharp contrast to several water resources experts, such as Dr Tushaar Shah, who have long held that increase in groundwater levels witnessed in some parts of Gujarat has been caused by tens of thousands of checkdams built in the late 1990s, a just-published book, “The Sardar Sarovar Project: Assessing Economic and Social Impacts”, authored by an ex-bureaucrat and a senior expert, have insisted that this has taken place because of the availability of the Sardar Sarovar-supported canal network. The book has been coauthored by S Jagadeesan, who was managing-director of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd (SSNNL) till about two years ago, and M Dinesh Kumar, executive director, Institute for Resource Analysis and Policy (IRAP), Hyderabad.
In a paper Dr Shah wrote in association with Ashok Gulati, Hemant P, Ganga Shreedhar, and RC Jain, “Secret of Gujarat’s Agrarian Miracle after 2000” (“Economic and Political Weekly”, December 26, 2009), the senior experts had stated, “Several exogenous factors have helped Gujarat’s exceptional agricultural growth performance after 1999-2000. Much of Gujarat – especially the drought-prone regions of Saurashtra, Kachchh and North Gujarat – have received above-normal rainfall during all these years.” This, the paper suggests, helped replenish checkdams across Gujarat.
The paper laments that the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP), “called the lifeline of Gujarat… has been mired in controversies and disputes”, adding, Gujarat may have raised the Narmada dam height to 121.5 metres, and there is “enough water in the dam to irrigate 18 lakh hectares (ha) as originally planned”, yet “SSP irrigation development is stuck because of the slow pace of command area development.” It added, while the main and branch canals were nearly complete, “the government is facing major road blocks in acquiring land for creating the network of distributaries, minors and sub-minors.”
Despite this clearcut view expressed by the group led by Dr Shah, the book is singularly quiet about the whole controversy. This despite the fact that the authors claim that the book is the “first attempt (sic!) to mainly highlight the positive side of the SSP in order to generate a more informed debate”. There is reason to wonder why it does not bother even once to recall what these scholars had said and why. Worse, the years of study the authors have chosen, from 2004 to 2009, for justifying sharp replenishment of groundwater levels, were also the years when Gujarat received excellent rainfall. What was the impact of rainfall on groundwater levels, on one hand, and Gujarat agriculture, on the other, has also not been discussed.
Based on the choice of the years, the authors say, “There has been significant difference in groundwater behaviour in the designated command areas of the SSP between the two time periods, that is, pre-command and post-command.” The districts covered in the analysis are Banaskantha, Mehsana, Ahmedabad, Surendranagar, Vadodra, Bharuch and Kheda. They add, “Season-wise analysis shows that everywhere water level either started rising at a faster rate or got reversed from the lower trend (pre-Narmada) to the rising trend (post-Narmada).”
At the same time, the authors admit, at least in Kheda, which was a recipient of Narmada waters during this period, while in the pre-Narmada period water levels showed “significant rise at the rate of 4.34 metres per year”, in the post-Narmada period they “dropped significantly … to 1.53 metres per year”, suggesting Narmada had no impact in this Central Gujarat region. However, the authors give no reason as to why this happened. Yet, at one place, they go far as to declare that total dissolved solids (TDS) in Kheda district, despite groundwater levels falling, showed a positive, “sliding trend”!
The authors give SSP full mark for groundwater recharge for the period 2004-09, when the Narmada command area development had not even begun. Even they declare that, thanks to the waters available from Narmada, agriculture boomed, leading to a situation when the “net income increase” rose for such cash crops like cotton across all the locations taken up for analysis. The incomes, they say, relying official sources, increased to Rs 49,586 per hectare (ha) in the Panchmahals and Rs 94,279 per ha in Bharuch.
Is all this because of the Sardar Sarovar Project? One has only to read this in the backdrop of, Dr Shah’s paper, written in 2009, which points to how, as “against a target of 18 lakh ha”, the SSP was then being “irrigating only 80-100 thousand ha mostly in the Narmada, Bharuch and Vadodara districts”!
Despite this, the authors seek to insist, “Area under irrigation has increases substantially in all the selected locations after the introduction (sic!) of water by gravity through the Narmada canal system.” In fact, contradicting Dr Shah (as also government’s own reports of those days), the authors say, “With the introduction of water from the Narmada canal, farmers’ dependence on wells and water purchase has reduced. Well-irrigation has become non-existent in all the four selected locations which are receiving canal water by gravity.”
Even here, interestingly, they do not even seek to examine whether this could also be due to good rainfall!
What is even more shocking is, while the authors devote one full chapter on what they call “environmental externalities of the SSP”, pointing to huge “ecological benefits of introducing Narmada water”, at another point in the same chapter (“Social Benefits and Impact”), they declare rather loudly, that the book “does not attempt to relook at the ecological damage (loss of forest, wildlife, and biodiversity) due to reservoir submergence and canal work”! The strange declaration has been made even as pointing towards the need to “examine” whether there were any “negative impacts”, as anticipated, in the Narmada command area.
The refusal to have a look at the “ecological damage” because of the SSP comes even though sharp questions have continued to be raised by social activists led by Medha Patkar, on one hand, and the World Bank, on the other, on destruction of environment because of the Narmada reservoir at the dam site, and sharp increase in salinity levels along the riverbed downstream of the Narmada river, up to the Gulf of Khambhat, making agricultural lands arid, unirrigable.
Worse, the authors refuse to compare the districts they have chosen for their study with other districts which do not fall under the Narmada command, but where because of rainfall water levels went up in the second half of the 2000s. Even then, they proclaim, “The study did not intend to capture changes in the dynamics of farm economy in the neighbouring areas/ regions due to due to changes in agricultural practices.”
And last but not the least, the study – despite its loud-mouthed intention to “generate a more informed debate” – is quiet about the allegation being leveled by social activists and media reports about reported “efforts” by the Gujarat officialdom to decommand whopping 4 lakh ha of land out of 18 lakh ha of the Narmada command area in anticipation of industrialization and urbanization in the Narmada command area.
Interestingly, the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), whose more than 40 per cent the area falls in Gujarat, overlaps the more than 500-km-long Narmada main canal. There is no discussion how this major change would impact, if at all, the whole Narmada command area.

Comments

TRENDING

Vishwanath has been unfairly excluded from global list of 100 best cricketers

By Harsh Thakor  Gundappa Vishwanath scaled zones in batting artistry or wizardry unparalleled amongst Indian batsmen. The best of his batting was a manifestation of the divine. He was also the epitome of cricketing sportsmanship. Sadly 40 years ago he unceremoniously bid farewell to the International cricket world, after the concluding test at Karachi in 1982-83., in January end. Very hard to visualise a character like Vishwanath being reborn today His memories are embedded in cricket lovers today when sportsmanship and grace have virtually been relegated to oblivion with the game of cricket turned into a commercial commodity. Today agro and unsporting behaviour is a routine feature Vishy shimmered cricket’s spirituality. His behaviour on the cricket field was grace personified, No one in his age defined cricket more as a gentleman’s game, than Vishy. Vishwanath could execute strokes that were surreal with his steel wrists. His strokeplay resembled the touches of a painter’s brush,

Abrogation of Art 370: Increasing alienation, relentless repression, simmering conflict

One year after the abrogation by the Central Government of Art. 370 in Kashmir, what is the situation in the Valley. Have the promises of peace, normalcy and development been realised? What is the current status in the Valley? Here is a detailed note by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties , “Jammu & Kashmir: One Year after Abrogation of Art. 370: Increasing Alienation, Relentless Repression, Simmering Conflict”:

Reproductive, conjugal rights of women in India amidst debate of uniform civil code

By IMPRI Team  A Three-Day Immersive Online Legal Awareness and Certificate Training Course on “Reproductive and Conjugal Rights of Women in India” is an initiative of the Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC), at the IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi, and ran for three consecutive days starting from December 22, 2022 to December 24, 2022. The online paid certification was aimed to provide attendees with an enriching experience on the gender discourse with a special focus on women’s rights and the much-discussed reproductive rights in India.

Covid jabs: Pretexts cited to justify young, healthy succumbing to heart attacks

By Jay Ihsan   Truth is stranger than fiction – when dedicated doctors raised the red flag against the mRNA Covid-19 vaccines, they were persecuted and their concerns barred from being heard. These honest doctors unequivocally made it known the Moderna Pfizer vaccines injure the heart and human body. One of them, Dr Peter McCullough, an American cardiologist, has repeatedly issued the clarion call to people to reject these harmful vaccines. An equally alarmed World Council for Health said the harmful Covid-19 vaccines should be removed from the market and the global inoculation must be stopped. “In Japan the vaccines were not mandated or made compulsory. The vaccines are not safe or effective enough to mandate them. The day the vaccines go away will be a day of celebration,” Dr Mccullough had lamented during an interview with India’s media outfit, Qvive several months ago. Meanwhile, the number of people jabbed with the Covid-19 mRNA vaccines died soon after or have developed lifelong

Gender gap 17%, SC and ST levels of education between 7% to 14% below upper classes

By IMPRI Team  The treatment of school education in a holistic manner and improving school effectiveness in terms of equal opportunities for schooling and learning outcomes has been the aspiration of all and multiple challenges are faced to maintain and provide proper education. On the occasion of India@75: Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, as part of its series- the State of Education- #EducationDialogue, #IMPRI Center for ICT for Development (CICTD), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi organised a special deliberation on The State of School Education In India with Prof Muchkund Dubey, who is the President of the Council for Social Development, New Delhi. The moderator for the event, Dr Simi Mehta CEO and Editorial Director of the IMPRI. The chair of the event was Prof Jandhyala B.G. Tilak, an Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR) National Fellow, the Distinguished Professor at the Council for Social Development, New Delhi and also a Former Professor & Vice-Ch

Rahul Dravid exhibited selflessness in heights unscaled by any other Indian batsman

By Harsh Thakor*  On January 11th maestro Rahul Dravid turned 50. No Indian batsmen were ever more of an embodiment of temperament or grit.as Rahul Dravid. Dravid was the best ambassador of sportsmanship in cricket in his day and age. In his time no Asian batsmen did what the doctor ordered, to the extent of Dravid. Dravid was manifestation of single-mindedess, tenacity and selflessness in sport. One hardly has an adjective to the ice coolness and craft Dravid exhibited in adjusting to the given situation. Rarely did any batsmen exhibit such a clinical o methodical approach to batting.

NHRC blindly followed BSF status report on fencing farmland off Indo-Bangladesh border

Kirity Roy, Secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) writes an open letter of protest against the action taken status report on restriction imposed by the BSF personnel upon the villagers of Changmari near Indo-Bangladesh border: *** I have the honour to inform you that we received one action taken status report dated 11.01.2023 from your Commission in respect of the above referred case from where it is revealed that your authority closed the case based on the report of the concerned authorities. In this connection I again raise my voice as the enquiry in respect of the above referred case was not properly conducted. Hence I submit this open letter of protest for the ends of justice. From the action taken status report of the Commission dated 11.01.2023 it is reported that concerned authority submitted a report dated 18.01.2022 where it is reported that the concerned area comes under the OPS responsibility of BOP Chengmari, 62 Bn BSF and is highly susceptible to trans-bo

Data analytics: How scientific enquiry process impacts quality of policy research

By IMPRI Team  Given the multidimensionality of policy and impact research, tech-driven policy prescriptions are playing a dominant role in the 21st century. As such, data analytics have become integral in this space. IMPRI Generation Alpha Data Centre (GenAlphaDC) , IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute New Delhi has successfully conducted a #WebPolicyTalk 6-Week Immersive Online Hands-on Certificate Training Course on Data Analytics for Policy Research, spanning over 6-consecutive Saturdays from October 15th to November 19th, 2022. Along with this, datasets for hands-on learning were also provided for data analysis and learning. Participants were required to make a submission for evaluation at the end of the course, to obtain the certificate. This course comprised hands-on data learning sessions and various expert sessions on data discourses. The course especially catered to data and policy enthusiasts – including students, professionals, researchers, and other individuals lo

Brutal assault on Delhi Univ students as fear grips present rulers on rise of dissent

By Arhaan Baaghi  Various democratic student organizations (bsCEM, fraternity, DSU, SIO, AIRSO) had planned a screening of the BBC documentary "India: The Modi Question" in the Delhi University Arts Faculty, but the guards of the university and the Delhi police along with paramilitary forcefully detained the students just because we were trying to watch a documentary that scrutinizes the role of Modi in 2002 Gujarat riots. At first when the students started screening the documentary, the electricity of the department building was cut down. Students were brutally beaten by the police and university guards. Female students were also brutally manhandled and beaten. This whole incident shows the Brahmanical Hindutva fascist nature of the government and the university authority that is working as its puppet. An activist of bsCEM was manhandled by a male security guard, who tried to pull out his T shirt. Also various female activist were dragged by male security guards and their h

Great march of migrants during lockdown: Lessons not learned, missed opportunities

By IMPRI Team  A panel discussion on “The Great March of Migrants During The National Lockdown: Lessons Not Learned and Missed Opportunities” was organized by the #IMPRI Center for Human Centre for Human Dignity and Development (CHDD), IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi on the occasion of International Migrants Day, i.e December 18, 2022. Inaugurating the session, Ms Aanchal Kumari, a researcher at IMPRI, welcomed the speakers and participants to the program with an introduction to the eminent panellists. The event was moderated by Dr Devender Singh, a Visiting Senior Fellow at IMPRI. The panellists included Prof. R.B Bhagat, Professor and Head, Department of Migration and Urban Studies, International Institute for Population Sciences, Mumbai; Prof Arun Kumar, Distinguished Economist, a Former Professor Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), New Delhi and Malcolm S. Adiseshiah Chair Professor, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi; Ms Akriti Bhatia, Founder of People