Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh on collusion course over Narmada waters
Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh are on moving towards a collusion course over Narmada waters.
Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani has warned his Madhya Pradesh counterpart Kamal Nath and state Narmada Valley Development Minister Surendra Singh Baghel on Saturday against "playing dirty politics over the supply of Narmada water to Gujarat".
Kamal Nath, on the other hand, has said that Madhya Pradesh will adhere to the agreement on the matter, and the state will not be able to supply more than the agreed share.
Gujarat had managed to get more than its share with a friendly Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in Madhya Pradesh and now the changed order in the central state might turn out to its disadvantage if the Narmada Accord is implemented in letter and spirit.
Baghel had recently said Gujarat was able to browbeat the previous BJP dispensation in Madhya Pradesh into supplying water much more in excess of the allocation and "this can't go on in the present circumstances".
He said that the Congress government will act keeping in mind the welfare of people in Madhya Pradesh, adding that Gujarat owes his state a hefty amount towards payment for electricity too.
Rupani went ballistic against Madhya Pradesh, alleging that the state wants to prevent Narmada waters flowing into Gujarat. He told a press conference that in these times of water shortage, the Congress was playing "childish, unfortunate, shameful, politically motivated and malicious" politics.
Alleging that the previous Congress governments had tried hard to stop the Narmada project, he said that after the humiliating defeat in the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress has become desperate.
"There has been no dispute over sharing of water during last 40 years but now the Congress-led Madhya Pradesh government is trying to create one. The Narmada Control Authority, constituted on the directions of the Supreme Court, has ensured proportionate distribution of water between Gujarat, MP, Rajasthan and Maharashtra and the arrangement can't be changed till 2024. Any issues arising between the states can be sorted out by negotiations. The MP government should not hold out any threats."
Rupani also said that "Gujarat has not done anything against the interests of the people of Madhya Pradesh which is getting 57 per cent of its share of hydel power.
"Rehabilitation of project-affected people was also carried out as per the Supreme Court directive. The MP government should not vitiate the atmosphere. Its officials did not attend a rehabilitation meeting held recently. "
He demanded that the Congress' Gujarat unit should also present the state's side over the issue. "We are not seeking alms. We want fair and legal share of water. The people of Gujarat are unhappy with the conduct of MP government."
The Narmada project is a lifeline for Gujarat, supplying water to more than half of the population, that is 30 million people in more than 160 cities and over 10,000 villages.
For the past 15 years, the two states have been catering to each other's political needs through the river water flow. The Shivraj Singh Chouhan government had ensured the neighbouring state remained supplied through the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections.
However, in the previous years too, Madhya Pradesh had to cut the supplies to Gujarat to take care of local needs.
An official of the Narmada Valley Development Authority said that the Madhya Pradesh government's decision not to supply 500 million cubic metres (MCM) water to Gujarat has helped it avert an acute water crisis in the state.
"According to Narmada Control Authority's decision, we were to supply 5,500
MCM to Gujarat from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018," the official said, adding that after supplying 5,000 MCM water by January, "we had to cut a sorry figure as we did not have enough water for the state".
Then, Gujarat kept asking Madhya Pradesh for 800 MCM more, he said.