The Narmada Story: CAG Findings

Narmada water project leaves drought-prone areas thirsty
Executed, commissioned sub-project not covered under master plan
D P Bhattacharya

Ahmedabad, April 1: DESPITE all the brouhaha over Narmada water reaching drought-prone areas in the state, as was envisioned in the master plan of Sardar Sarovar Narmada Main Canal-based Bulk Water Transmission Project, the Gujarat Water Infrastructure Limited (GWIL) had diverted the much-awaited water to Gandhinagar and oversupplied it to industries in Kutch, leaving the nearby areas thirsty.
The CAG report on GWIL says, the company diverted 255 MLD (million litres per day) to Gandhinagar city and allocated more water to the industries in the arid Kutch district than was originally planned for. The water, which was originally meant for supply to drought-prone areas will now have an adverse effect on the drinking-water scenario of the arid district by 2021, the report states.
The project envisaged supply of water to drought-prone areas of Saurashtra, Kutch, north Gujarat and Panchmahal, benefiting 2.92 crore people across 8,215 villages and 135 towns by 2021. GWIL was incorporated in 1999 to implement 13 out of total 39 sub-projects under the main project and involving a length of 811 km out of the total 2,700 km project.
It says, GWIL had executed and commissioned sub-project NC-14 at a cost of Rs 39.39 crore for supplying 255 MLD water to Gandhinagar city, Thermal Power Station (TPS), Gujarat State Electricity Corporation Limited (GSECL) at Gandhinagar and others, which were not covered under the master plan.
Though the government had tried to justify the diversion saying that this had benefited Gandhinagar, TPS and GSECL, CAG found it untenable as the project aimed at water supply to drought-prone areas identified in the master plan. CAG further observed that 90.10 MLD water was allocated for domestic use in Gandhinagar, when according to Indian Standard (IS) Code of basic requirement for water supply, drainage and sanitation for the city should have been 49 MLD.
The “incorrect estimation led to excess provision of 41.10 MLD water at the cost of drought-prone areas,” the report added. It was further observed that while “the master plan for the project had envisaged allocation of 232 MLD water for Kutch district, including 45 MLD water for industrial use. The excess allocation would reduce water for domestic use in Kutch by 2021”, the report stated.
CAG further noted that as the company supplied water to local bodies, Bhavnagar and Jamnagar Municipal Corporations emerged as two major defaulters with outstanding dues of Rs 4.80 crore and Rs 3.27 crore respectively. “Non-realisation of old dues from BMC and JMC alone had resulted in loss of interest of Rs 2.57 crore for the period up to March 2006”, the report observed.
“Besides, the company has failed to evolve an effective pricing policy which had adversely affected the financial viability of the company”, it added.