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Gujarat’s water crisis, why is Narmada’s level low this year?

Gujarat’s water crisis, why is Narmada’s level low this year?


Since March 15, Gujarat farmers have not been given access to Narmada waters for agricultural purposes. Security personnel have been deployed along the main canal of the Sardar Sarovar Dam at Kevadia to ensure that farmers do not illegally draw water.

Reasons for low water level:

  • Deficient rainfall

Gujarat has only 49.8% water of its total storage capacity which is 13% less as compared to last year. One of the major triggers of water crisis is the lowest rain water inflow in 15 years in Narmada catchment areas in MP which has halved Narmada waters in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and MP.

Inefficient utilisation

The timing of the release of water by upstream dams on the Narmada is also being scrutinised by many. Official records show that the high water level was achieved on the inauguration day primarily because BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh released an unusual amount of water from upstream dams over a five-day period. The water level of the reservoir consistently increased till it reached its highest point in late-September, and then it began to dip.

Structure of the dam

Questions have often been raised about the structure of the Sardar Sarovar Dam- about the measures incorporated to curb water seepage from the lift joints of the SSP.  

The Sardar Sarovar Dam:

  • The Sardar Sarovar Dam is a gravity dam on the Narmada river near Navagam, Gujarat in India.
  • Four Indian states, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharastra and Rajasthan, receive water and electricity supplied from the dam. The foundation stone of the project was laid out by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru on April 7, 1961.
  • The project took form in 1979 as part of a development scheme to increase irrigation and produce hydroelectricity. The dam was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 17, 2017.
  • The dam's main power plant houses six 200 MW Francis pump-turbines to generate electricity and include a pumped-storage capability. Additionally, a power plant on the intake for the main canal contains five 50 MW Kaplan turbine-generators. The total installed capacity of the power facilities is 1,450 MW.