ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Rahul RanadeSubscribe to Rahul Ranade

'Out of Sight, Out of Mind'

The Narmada is one of the few rivers in India where clear-cut allocation of river water between participant states has been decreed by a central tribunal. The Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal?s (NWDT) order issued in 1979 has since been the reference point for all water development plans in the basin. The aspect of this order that this paper focuses on is the lack of any reference to groundwater when fixing allocation between the party states. It is a well-documented fact that conditions of heavy groundwater extraction often lead to decline in stream flows. This report is a critique of the premise on which the NWDT has fixed the inter-state allocation; it argues that the omission of groundwater withdrawals in the tribunal award is a serious oversight which may result in forced deviations from the decreed allocation. The case of the Narmada illustrates a condition generic to most other river basins in India ? surface water allocation alone is inadequate if corresponding allocation of groundwater is not done.

Narmada Water for Groundwater Recharge in North Gujarat

North Gujarat is naturally endowed with one of the richest alluvial aquifers of India but its uncontrolled exploitation for irrigation has resulted in many undesirable consequences. A major hydrological opportunity for rejuvenation of the aquifer system is provided by the availability of unutilised flows from Narmada basin. It is proposed to divert this water to north Gujarat through the Narmada main canal, and use the existing canal networks and village ponds and tanks in the region to activate a decentralised recharge process. This paper examines its physical and economic feasibility. An evaluation of two recharge scenarios in north Gujarat shows that using pumped water for recharging outside the designated command area may prove to be an uneconomical proposition, unless there is substantial increase in the productivity of water. Recharge within the command would be much more economical.
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