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Chambal Valley Development Project: Unequal Distribution of Gains

There has been an unequal distribution of the net gains between Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan from the Chambal Valley Development Project. Among other things, the restrictions on harvesting of surface water in the catchment area of the Gandhi Sagar dam have resulted in huge ecological and social costs to the people of Malwa region in the state. The share of Rajasthan in the net available water from the project is far greater than the water utilised by MP. Since the latter is unable to utilise more water in its area, it should be allowed to utilise its share in the catchment area of Gandhi Sagar.

Chambal Valley Development Project: Unequal Distribution of Gains

There has been an unequal distribution of the net gains between Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan from the Chambal Valley Development Project. Among other things, the restrictions on harvesting of surface water in the catchment area of the Gandhi Sagar dam have resulted in huge ecological and social costs to the people of Malwa region in the state. The share of Rajasthan in the net available water from the project is far greater than the water utilised by MP. Since the latter is unable to utilise more water in its area, it should be allowed to utilise its share in the catchment area of Gandhi Sagar.

RAM PRATAP GUPTA, GANESH KAWADIA, SARA ATTARI

T
he urge to harness the Chambal waters for electricity and irrigation through the construction of a big dam first became evident in 1940 when the rulers of the then Mewar and Holkar states jointly drew up a Chambal Valley Development Project for the benefits of their own states. The project could take concrete shape only in the 1950s when it was taken up as a joint project of the then states of Madhya Bharat and Rajasthan. The project consisted of three dams, namely, Gandhi Sagar in Madhya Pradesh, Rana Pratap Sagar and Jawahar Sagar in Rajasthan for power production and the Kota Barrage for irrigation, again situated in Rajasthan. Though Madhya Pradesh contributed 83 per cent of total harnessed water to the project and suffered 90 per cent of the displacement with little or no rehabilitation, but the electricity and irrigation facilities created were to be shared equally between two states since both contributed equally to the total cost of the project [Gupta 2002]. The project was planned to irrigate 5.6 lakh hectares of land and to build a capacity to generate 230 MW of electricity.

Implications of Ban on Surface Water Harvesting in Catchment Area of Gandhi Sagar

The water contributed by Madhya Pradesh is collected in Gandhi Sagar, constructed in the state. It was estimated by the then planners that water run-off of Chambal at Gandhi Sagar would be in the range of 2.8 to 3.2 million acre feet (MAF) at 75 per cent dependability. In the post-dam period, the actual runoff has been at the level of 2.6 MAF. Thus, the reservoir with a capacity of 6.28 MAF is far bigger than required, even if we make allowance for some additional capacity to have carry-over stock during years of scanty rainfall [Gupta 2003]. When a reservoir of almost double the capacity than required was planned and constructed, the planners naturally wished that the reservoirs should fill to the maximum possible extent. To have the maximum run-off, it was expected of the government of Madhya Pradesh that it would not harvest further any surface water in the catchment area of Gandhi Sagar, which is spread over 22,500 sq km in eight districts of Malwa, namely, Dhar, Indore, Dewas, Shajapur, Ujjain, Ratlam, Mandsaur and Neemuch. The planners could not visualise the economic, social and ecological complications of such a ban on surface water harvesting over such a large area. This resulted in unbalanced development of irrigation facilities in these districts.

Since the government of Madhya Pradesh did not undertake any surface water irrigation schemes in the post-dam period due to an informal understanding between the two states, in a large area of 22,500 sq km spread over 50 per cent of the total area of the eight districts of Malwa, the farmers were left with only one source, that is of groundwater to meet their increasing needs of irrigation. It should be noted and remembered in this context that there is no such provision in the agreement reached between these two states about the Chambal Valley Development Project1 that MP would not harvest surface water in the catchment area of Gandhi Sagar. We don’t have any data regarding the irrigation pattern in the catchment area of Gandhi Sagar, but we do have the data for whole of the Malwa region in which the catchment area lies, which covers about half of the area covered by Malwa. The restriction on the development on surface water irrigation schemes was expected to cover only the catchment area. The skewed development of irrigation facilities, depending solely upon groundwater harvesting, would be more so in the catchment area of Gandhi Sagar compared to whole of the Malwa in which it lies. We therefore, made an attempt to visualise the skewed pattern of irrigation in the catchment area with the help of source wise irrigation data for all the eight districts of Malwa region in which it lies. The irrigation pattern data in the eight districts of Malwa for the years 1966-67 and 1998-99 are given in Table 1.

Here we have used the irrigation data for the year 1966-67, since we could not lay our hands upon the data for 1960-61, the year when Gandhi Sagar was completed, the use of the data of 1966-67 instead of 1960-61 will not distort the estimates of the changes in irrigation pattern in the post-dam period, as the demand for irrigation increased rapidly only during 1970s due to the introduction of green revolution technologies. We find that the contribution of surface water sources in the irrigation facilities of Malwa has decreased from 7.1 per cent of the total in the 1966-67 to only 5.3 per cent in 1998-99. On the other hand, the share of irrigation from wells and tube wells, i e, from groundwater source has also decreased from 88 per cent to 49 per cent during the span of 32 years; however, the absolute area from this source has increased from 192.8 thousand hectares in 1966-67 to 629.5 thousand hectares in 1998-99, an increase of 283 per cent. This shows that groundwater harvest showed an impressive growth in the region during this period. In spite of this impressive increase, it could not meet the increasing needs

Economic and Political Weekly February 3, 2007 of the farmers of the area and contribution of groundwater sources in the total irrigated area decreased over the period from 88 per cent to just 49 per cent. This is because of an extraordinary increase in the area irrigated from “other sources” of irrigation. It has increased from 10.9 thousand hectares in 1966-67 to 688.3 thousand hectares in 1998-99, an increase of 6,214 per cent. Irrigation from other sources includes the pumping of water directly from rivers, ‘nalas’, stop dams, etc, for irrigation of the land. Since under an informal understanding, Madhya Pradesh was not to construct tanks, check dams, etc, even to increase the recharge of groundwater, the state therefore has not only not constructed new tanks during this period but at the same time it also neglected the maintenance of old ones, resulting in a decrease in the number of old tanks from 95 in 1966-67 to 63 in 1998-99, a decrease of 28 per cent. Thus, when farmers drew groundwater in increasing quantity with little or decreased recharge, this resulted in a speedy fall in the groundwater table. The groundwater table fell sharply in the last 15 years by 15 metres, resulting in a descent of 15 development blocks of Malwa into either the dark or the grey category, and other blocks are moving fast in this direction. With increasing water utilisation and less recharge, the estimates of over-exploitation of water are high in the districts of Mandsaur (159.77 per cent), Indore (121.1 per cent) and Ujjain (126.6 per cent) whereas in the remaining districts also it has reached critical limits [Central Ground Water Board 2003]. This was the result of competitive withdrawal of groundwater by the farmers to meet their increasing needs of irrigation, which resulted in one-third of wells and tube wells losing their irrigation capacity. These were mostly the wells and tube wells of those poor farmers who could not withstand the competitive withdrawal of war that required deepening their wells, resulting in their investment becoming unproductive, thereby suffering heavy losses and burden of debt.

This created a very strange situation before the farmers of Malwa, especially before the farmers of the catchment area of Gandhi Sagar. The groundwater aquifer became empty due to forced over-exploitation and no increase in surface water irrigation facilities due to an informal understanding between the two states about not to harvest further surface water so as to maximise the run-off in Gandhi Sagar reservoir and fill it to the maximum possible level. The farmers were left with no source of irrigation to meet the increasing demand; under the circumstances they started pumping water directly from rivers, nalas, nistari tanks, stop dams, etc, without bothering whether this is legal or illegal. An irrigation facility is a question of survival for the farmers. We find that the irrigated area from this source has increased almost 63 times in a span of 32 years. The increasing withdrawal of water for irrigation from Chambal and its subsidiaries, resulted in their becoming dry just after two or three months of the rainy season. With emptying rivers and nalas, now the farmers of this area have started digging wells in their beds and drawing the groundwater below. One can see farmers pumping water from rivers and nalas everywhere in the Malwa. This was more so in the blocks falling in the catchment area of Gandhi Sagar.

The steep fall in the groundwater level and the emptied rivers and nalas soon after the rainy season has diminished a major source of humidity of the soil. Other factors like increasing use of inorganic fertiliser and decreasing use of organic fertiliser, a decrease in the area under forest, have together resulted in the fall of bio-contents of the soil, adversely affecting its water absorbing capacity in this area. When the soils of this area became devoid of humidity because of the factors described above, they started eroding fast. A decrease in humidity of the soil and its water holding capacity, and emptied rivers and nalas, which were perennial earlier, have pushed this fertile area of the catchment towards desertification. We can thus conclude that Madhya Pradesh, especially the people of the catchment area of Gandhi Sagar are bearing huge social, economic and ecological costs just to ensure that excess-capacity Gandhi Sagar is filled to the maximum extent possible and sufficient quantity of water is available for irrigation in the Chambal Valley Project.

Trends in Water Availability and Use in Irrigation

Madhya Pradesh is receiving a 50 per cent share in the electricity generated through the three dams, i e, Gandhi Sagar, Rana Pratap Sagar and Jawahar Sagar. But the same cannot be said about the share in the harnessed water through this project. Jawahar Sagar and Kota barrage have little or no independent catchment area; storage in these is the water collected in the reservoirs of Gandhi Sagar and Rana Pratap Sagar. The availability of water harnessed through Chambal Valley development scheme is, therefore equal to the available water in the two reservoirs of Gandhi Sagar and Rana Pratap Sagar as on November 30 each year. The quantum of water available for use on November 30 is equal to the run-off received in the rainy season and the carry over stock on June 30. The data regarding availability of water as on November 30 in these two reservoirs for the period 1976-77 to 2002-03 and the water used in for irrigation by the two states are given in Table 2.

It is clear from the table that the availability of water for use in both the dams and the total as on November 30 every year shows wide fluctuations. The Gandhi Sagar dam had water as high as 5.4332 MAF in 1977-78 and as low as just 0.2585 MAF in 2002-03. Similarly, the Rana Pratap Sagar had water as high as 1.5464 MAF in 1977-78 and as low as just 0.0996 MAF in 2000-01. There are wide fluctuations in the total availability of water in the Chambal Valley Project. The availability of water is mainly determined by the run-off in the catchment area and carry-over stock. This region has a normal monsoon cycle of five years. Thus the availability of water and hence use of water in irrigation for both the states changes with time. In order to discern the trend in the availability of water and use in irrigation by these two states, we have fit a simple linear trend equation to these data. The estimates of the trend equation are given in Table 3.

Table 1: Irrigated Area in Madhya Pradesh and Its Sources

(000 hectares)

S No 1966-67 1998-99 Per cent Increase
1 Wells 192.8 629.5
2 Tube wells 108.5
3 Total irrigation from
Groundwater sources 192.8 738.0 283.0
(88) (49)
4 Canals 8.7 35.8
5 Tanks 6.5 44.5
6 Total surface water irrigation 15.2 80.3 428.2
(7.0) (5.3)
7 Other source 10.9 688.3 6214.3
(5.00) (45.7)
Total irrigated area 218.9 1506.6 588.5

Source: Agricultural Statistics of MP, 1968 and 2000.

Economic and Political Weekly February 3, 2007

The estimated results of the trend equations show that the trend coefficient of water availability in Gandhi Sagar, Rana Pratap Sagar and the total in the Chambal Valley project is negative but statistically insignificant. It thus indicates a complete absence of any trend in these three variables. The availability of water on an average has not shown any change over this period. One must note that during 2000-01 to 2002-03, the catchment areas of these dams have faced severe drought. As a result, the water run-off in the dams has decreased sharply during these years. If we drop these three years from the trend equations, we find a positive but again insignificant coefficient of time. Our analysis thus does not support the claim by the Rajasthan government that the water run-off to these dams is declining during the period. Rajasthan has been raising this issue in various meetings of Chambal Control Board that water run-off in Gandhi Sagar is decreasing overtime due to construction of structures for harvesting rain water.

When we analyse the data on water use in irrigation, we find a different picture. The trend coefficient of water use in irrigation by MP, Rajasthan and total water use in irrigation is negative and statistically significant at a 1 per cent level of significance. This indicates a declining trend in the water use in irrigation. It needs to be explained that this decline in the water use in irrigation is in spite of no change in the average availability of water in the dams. Moreover, this marginal decline per year in the water use in irrigation by MP is higher than that of Rajasthan.

Factors Affecting Water Use in Irrigation

Looking at the data regarding availability of water as on November 30 and actual use of water for irrigation by the two states, we find that in any particular year there seems to be no direct relationship between the two, in some years, a very small portion of available water is actually used in irrigation, in other years, most of available water is used, for example, in the year from 1994-95 to 1996-97, the available water was more than 6 MAF, but the use of water for irrigation was around 3 MAF, i e, almost 50 per cent of the available quantity. On the other hand, in the years 1981-82 and 1983-84, the availability and use of water in irrigation were almost equal. In the year 1980-81, the use of water in irrigation was more than the availability, which was met by drawing down the dead storage. In order to explain the inter-relationship between water use for irrigation and the availability in the dam as on November 30 each year, we have used regression analysis to explain the variation in the water use for irrigation by both the states, and by MP and Rajasthan separately. Here we have used the stock of water and time trend value as the explanatory variables. The estimates of the regression are given in Table 4.

It is clear from the regression estimates that the impact of both the variables on water use in irrigation is significant. The impact of total availability of water in the project as on November 30 has a positive and significant impact on water utilisation for irrigation though there may be no direct relationship in any particular year. The coefficient of trend is negative and significant. This indicates that in spite of the fact that the stock of water increases, total water use in irrigation in MP and Rajasthan over the time period has a declining trend. This is a serious matter, since the water harnessed through the Chambal project is to be used only for providing irrigation in Rajasthan and MP. In the agreement on the Chambal Valley Development Project between the two states, there is a provision for use in irrigation only, with no explicit provision for other uses. The decreasing trend in the utilisation of water in irrigation indicates that the project is losing its utility. The same exercise for the water use in irrigation by MP and Rajasthan separately also yields almost the same results. With no decline in the availability of water in the two reservoirs, the decreasing trend in the utilisation of water in irrigation by MP and Rajasthan needs further explanation. It needs to be explained how trend coefficient is negative and significant in spite of no decline trend in the availability of water in the dam. Moreover, this decline is more in case of Madhya Pradesh

Table 2: Water Availability and Use in Irrigation in Chambal Valley Development Project

(MAF)

S No Year Water Available on Water Use in Irrigation November 30 (Live Storage) Gandhi Rana Total MP Rajasthan Total Sagar Pratap (X3) (Y1) (Y2) (Y3) (X1) Sagar (X2)

1 1976-77 5.2407 1.2550 6.4957 1.9510 1.6516 3.6026 2 1977-78 5.4332 1.5464 6.9796 2.0407 1.8143 3.8550 3 1978-79 5.0290 1.2329 6.2619 1.9980 1.8710 3.8690 4 1979-80 2.6507 1.1601 3.8108 1.7137 1.6471 2.8832 5 1980-81 2.1276 0.4017 2.5293 1.3640 1.1592 2.3265 6 1981-82 1.7662 0.6042 2.3704 1.1568 1.1697 1.8934 7 1982-83 1.3995 0.7093 2.1088 0.8817 1.0117 2.4260 8 1983-84 1.6786 0.7696 2.4482 0.9810 1.4450 2.6787 9 1984-85 4.9172 0.6615 5.5787 1.2797 1.3990 2.8239 10 1985-86 2.9430 0.3934 3.3364 1.3033 1.5206 3.4593 11 1986-87 5.6030 1.3085 6.9115 1.8274 1.6319 3.4593 12 1987-88 2.8958 0.5776 3.4734 1.6499 1.5842 3.2301 13 1988-89 3.2607 0.3866 3.6473 1.6963 1.4557 3.1520 14 1989-90 1.4038 0.7355 2.1393 1.2058 1.2239 2.497 15 1990-91 5.0920 0.6419 5.7339 1.0137 1.0989 2.1126 16 1991-92 4.9495 1.2113 6.1608 1.7173 1.4219 3.1391 17 1992-93 2.1150 1.0018 3.1168 1.6641 1.4663 3.1304 18 1993-94 2.5182 0.3650 2.8832 1.1074 1.3782 2.4856 19 1994-95 5.5130 1.0844 6.5974 1.2692 1.3052 2.5744 20 1995-96 5.1115 1.1569 6.2684 1.2676 1.4441 2.7117 21 1996-97 5.6030 1.2699 6.8729 1.2479 1.4441 2.6920 22 1997-98 5.0440 0.9688 6.0128 0.9984 1.4364 2.4348 23 1998-99 3.8426 0.4837 4.3263 0.9129 1.7518 2.6647 24 1999-00 2.8202 0.5839 3.4041 0.5655 1.4850 2.0505 25 2000-01 0.5814 0.0996 0.681 0.4323 0.5215 0.9538 26 2001-02 0.7818 1.2519 2.0337 0.7429 0.8085 1.5514 27 2002-03 0.2585 0.3027 0.5612 0.0647 0.0553 0.1200

Source: Chambal Control Board, Kota (Rajasthan).

Table 3: Estimates of Linear Trend Equation, 1976-77 to 2002-03

S No Dependent Variable Intercept Coefficient of Time R2

1 Water availability in Gandhi Sagar 4.0332 -0.04846 .0472 (.0435) 2 Water availability in Rana Pratap Sagar 1.0058 -0.0132 0.0730 (.0094) 3 Total availability 5.0391 -0.06167 0.0584 (.0495) 4 Water use in irrigation by MP 1.8746 -0.04378* 0.5017 (.00872) 5 Water use in irrigation by Rajasthan 1.6913 -0.02504* 0.2571 (.0085) 6 Total water use in irrigation 3.5720 -0.0679* 0.4139 (.01616)

Notes: (i) * Indicates significant at 1 per cent level of significance.

(ii) Values in the brackets are the standard error of the coefficient.

Economic and Political Weekly February 3, 2007 compared to Rajasthan. Madhya Pradesh, which is the major contributor of water in the project, is losing its share in water for irrigation at a higher rate compared to that of Rajasthan. This is a matter of serious concern for the people of Malwa who are contributing 83 per cent of the water in the dam.

In the long run, the quantity of water used must depend upon availability in the project. To further verify and explain the results of regression analysis in a simple and comprehensive way and to clarify the impact of these changes on Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, we have compared the situation in the 10-year period 1976-77 to 1985-86 to the situation in the 10-year period 1993-94 to 2002-03. Before, we proceed further, it must remembered that some quantity of the available water as on November 30 gets evaporated and some wasted in seepage. It is assumed by the irrigation department that 10 per cent of the available water as on November 30 gets evaporated before it is used for irrigation. As regards seepage, the land structure in which Chambal flows in the project area is such that not much water should be wasted due to seepage. This is also clear from the fact that water availability in the wells in the adjoining area of the reservoirs of Gandhi Sagar and Rana Pratap Sagar has not increased in these years. Had there been seepage, the availability of water in such wells would have increased. To be on the safer side, we assume that 5 per cent of the available water as on November 30 gets wasted through seepage. Thus, on the whole, 10 per cent water gets evaporated and 5 per cent is wasted through seepage and thus 15 per cent in total should be deducted before we try to find out how much of the available water in these two reservoirs is actually available for irrigation and whether there has been some decrease or increase overtime in the ratio.

To find out the proportion of decrease or increase in the available water used for irrigation over the time, we have taken a 10-year average of the net availability of water in the Chambal Project and actual use in irrigation by the two states of Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan in the beginning and at the end of period of our study. As stated earlier, the net availability of water for use is taken equal to 85 per cent of the total availability as on November 30 in each, Gandhi Sagar and Rana Pratap Sagar, assuming that 15 per cent of the water available is wasted through evaporation and seepage. The net average availability of water in the two reservoirs and water used in irrigation for the periods 1976-77 to 1985-86 (10-year average) and 1993-94 to 2002-03 (10-year average) is given in Table 5.

It is clear from Table 5 that the percentage of net available water used in irrigation by the two states has decreased on an average from 86.33 per cent for the period 1976-77 to 1985-86 to 58.9 per cent during 1993-94 to 2002-03. The average quantity of water used for irrigation by both the states has also decreased from 2.97 MAF in the first period to 2.02 MAF in the second period, a decrease of 31.9 per cent in a period of 17-18 years. Moreover, this decreased quantity of water used for irrigation has not been shared equally between the two states. The water used in irrigation by MP has decreased from 1.47 MAF to 0.86 MAF between the two periods. This state thus has suffered a

41.3 per cent decrease; on the other hand, Rajasthan has suffered a decrease in the water use for irrigation from 1.50 MAF in the first period to 1.16 MAF in the second period, that is a decrease of 22.6 per cent only. Thus, Madhya Pradesh suffered almost double the rate of decrease compared to Rajasthan in the use of water in irrigation from this project.

One of the reasons behind the decrease is that MP has failed in the maintenance of canals in its area resulting in the decrease in their capacity to hold water. This is a gross negligence on the part of the state, especially when the cost is to be shared by the two states. But the decrease in the share of water used in irrigation of MP is not totally explained by the failure in the maintenance of canals. MP has been demanding that due to high fluctuations in the amount of water released by Rajasthan for MP ranging from 500 to 900 cusecs, the canal has been damaged (in a meeting of the Chambal Control Board held on January 9, 2003). Thus, one of the factors behind the low share of MP in the total water used for irrigation is that Rajasthan gives priority to meet the needs of farmers in its own area without caring to stabilise the release of water for MP, which results the damage to the canals in MP.

Now the question arises that when the net availability of water is more than the water used in irrigation, then who is using it and for what purposes? It is Rajasthan that is using the water for the drinking needs of the population of Rawatbhata and Kota and to meet the needs of atomic power and thermal power units and other industries situated in these two towns. The average amount of water used by Rajasthan for these non-irrigation purposes was 0.47 MAF in the period from 1976-77 to 198586, which increased to 1.41 MAF in the periods from 1993-94 to 2002-03, an increase of three times in a short span of 17-18 years. The number of nuclear power plants at Rawatbhata has increased from three to six and the number of thermal power plants at Kota has also increased from four to six in this period. Rajasthan has started supplying drinking water to distant towns like Ramganj Mandi and the villages along the route. This led to a three-fold increase in the use for non-irrigation purposes by Rajasthan. It should be remembered that there is no provision for the non-irrigation use of water of the project in the agreement reached between the two states.

Rajasthan is not only using water for non-irrigation purposes for which there is no provision in the agreement between the two states, but also charging from the industries situated at Rawatbhata and Kota for the water used and retaining the revenue. The amount charged by it for only six out of 45 years, equal to Rs 8.38 crore has been shared by the two states (Minutes of the 73rd meeting of Chambal Control Board held on January 29, 2003 at Kota). The amount charged in the remaining years was retained by Rajasthan. What is more surprising is that the Madhya Pradesh government has not raised any objection over a long period against the sale of water to industries and retention of the entire revenue by Rajasthan. As regards the use of water for drinking purposes by Rajasthan, the cost of the same is being shared by Madhya Pradesh. Rajasthan is taking advantage of this and is planning to supply water to more distant towns, like

Table 4: Estimates of the Regression Yt =
βββββ
0 +
βββββ
2 X2t+ Ut

+

βββββ
1 X1t

S No Dependent Intercept Coefficient Coefficient of R2 Variable of X1 Trend Value

1 Total water use 2.4516 0.2223* -0.0542* .6857 in irrigation (Y3 ) (.3128) (.0488) (.0124) 2 Water use in irrigation by MP (Y1) 1.2819 0.1175* -.0365* (.1719) (.0268) (.0068) 0.7232

3 Water use in 1.1317 0.1110* -.0182* 0.5668 irrigation by (.1718) (.0268) (.0068) Rajasthan (Y2 )

Notes: Significant at 1 per cent level of significance. X1 is the stock of water available at time t and X2 is the time variable at t.

Economic and Political Weekly February 3, 2007

Bhawani Mandi. While Malwa is being denied to use the surface water, resulting in an acute scarcity. MP is bearing the financial burden of supplying half the quantity of water used in the towns and industries of Rajasthan.

The question that arises is that when there is no provision in the project to supply water for drinking needs to the towns of Kota and Rawatbhata and to the industrial units of these two towns, from where are these needs to be met. The simple answer is that Rajasthan is free to use its share of 50 per cent in the net available water for which it is entitled for whatever purpose it decides. But what is happening is that Rajasthan is using the water of the project for non-irrigation uses, for which Madhya Pradesh is also entitled, selling some portion of the same to industries and retaining the entire amount.

Moreover, the data regarding the use of water in irrigation by Rajasthan is also unreliable. Rajasthan is cultivating rice in the Chambal command area, the area being 40,000 hectares per annum on average (as per the Chambal Command Area Office at Kota). Rice is a high water consuming crop, next only to sugar cane, consuming 9,000 cum of water per hectare. Thus the water required by the rice crop alone in the command of Chambal project situated in Rajasthan is almost 0.29 MAF, while according to statistics, Rajasthan has been using only 0.23 MAF water for the kharif crop. There are other crops that also need water in kharif season. It is true that some requirement of water for the rice crop should have been met by rainwater. Yet, taking account to the requirement of water for rice and other crops in kharif season, the consumption of only 0.23 MAF water in the kharif season by Rajasthan seems doubtful. In this connection, it should be noted that the rice crop is grown in Rajasthan mostly in the area irrigated by the left canal and the release of water in the left canal is solely managed and controlled by Rajasthan, and it has been difficult to verify the figures given by it.

We see from the data given in Table 3 that the gross water available for use in Gandhi Sagar as on November 30 has been on an average equal to 3.31 MAF in the period 1976-77 to 1985-86 and 3.29 MAF in the period 1993-94 to 2002-03. The difference in the amount available in these two periods is hardly 1 per cent and we can thus conclude that there has been no increase or decrease in the run-off in the reservoir over time. But as already been stated earlier, Rajasthan has been complaining in almost every meeting of the Chambal Control Board in recent years that Madhya Pradesh is using too much surface water in the catchment area of Gandhi Sagar, resulting in decrease in the run-off in it. Madhya Pradesh, in reply to this charge, says that it is using only 404 MCM or 0.328 MAF, which is equal to 6 per cent of total run-off water against its entitlement of 10 per cent. The standard practice in all major projects is that the catchment area of any dam is entitled to use 10 per cent of the run-off water and MP is utilising less than that. Rajasthan did not believe the figures given by MP about use of surface water and has sent its additional chief engineer to estimate the amount of surface water harvested by MP. This is against the very spirit of mutual trust. Moreover, when there is an absence of a long-term trend in the run-off water in Gandhi Sagar, such a lack of trust is not desirable [Gupta and Kawadia 2003]. In spite of these facts, recently, the irrigation minister of Rajasthan, Surendra Singh Rathore has threatened the MP government that it will take them to the court for harvesting more surface water and construction of 1,500 structures in the catchment area of Gandhi Sagar, since these structures are adversely affecting the run-off in the Gandhi Sagar dam.

Moreover, when Rajasthan raises objections about harvesting of surface water in the catchment area of Gandhi Sagar, it should also remember that this area is a drought-prone one and harvesting of some rainwater is a must for maintaining hydrological cycle. The hydrological cycle should be viewed in its entirety and no superficial distinction can be made between groundwater and surface water [Chopra and Kadekodi 1999]. Harvesting of surface water through the construction of tanks, stop dams, etc, increases the humidity of the soil and raises the groundwater table. An increase in humidity in the soil results in a decrease in the absorption of rainwater in the early stages of rainfall and thus increases the run-off. Restrictions on the harvesting of surface water have resulted in a decrease in the humidity of the soil, which in turn has resulted in absorption of a higher proportion of early rainfall, further but the decline in run-off water. An analysis of the rainfall-runoff relationship in Gandhi Sagar has shown that the level of rainfall at which the run-off starts in Gandhi Sagar is increasing with time [S M Jain, undated]. If more surface water is harvested in the catchment area of Gandhi Sagar, resulting in an increase in the humidity of the soil, which in turn, results in less absorption of water from early rainfall, and thus an increase in the run-off, compensating any decrease in run-off because of such structures. Moreover, the harvesting of surface water through tanks, etc, will also increase the level of groundwater, which in turn, increases the post-monsoon run-off. It should be noted that the post-monsoon runoff in Gandhi Sagar has been equal to only 5 per cent, while in the project report it was estimated to be equal to 10 per cent. An increase in the water table results in some inflow in the rivers in the post-monsoon period, making them perennial.

Conclusions
  • (1) The restrictions on the harvesting of surface water in the catchment area of the Gandhi Sagar dam, just to ensure that the excess-capacity dam is filled to the maximum extent possible, has resulted in huge ecological and social costs to the people of Malwa. The groundwater table fell sharply and now most of the blocks of Malwa are becoming either dark or grey.
  • (2) There has been a complete absence of a long-term trend of either decrease or increase in the run-off and availability of water in the dams of the Chambal Valley Project. The long-run
  • Table 5: Gross and Net Average Availability of Water in Chambal Project and Use in Irrigation by the Two States

    (MAF)

    Period 1976-77 to 1984-85 (average) 1993-94 to 2002-03 Availability of Water for Use on November 30 Gandhi Rana Pratap Total S a g a r S a g a r 3.31454 0.73481 4.04935 3.28762 0.75668 4.0443 Net Availability of Water 3.44195 3.4377 Water Used in Irrigation Per Cent of Net Utilisable Madhya Rajasthan Total Water in Prad e s h Irrigation 1.46697 1.504493 2.971483 86.33 0.86088 1.164 2.02488 58.90
    Economic and Political Weekly February 3, 2007 401

    trend coefficient is statistically insignificant for the availability water in Gandhi Sagar and Rana Pratap Sagar and thus the long run average availability of water in the project has not changed over time. Therefore, the charge often levelled by Rajasthan that Madhya Pradesh is harvesting too much surface water in the catchment area resulting in the decrease in run-off in Gandhi Sagar is baseless. Madhya Pradesh can reject this charge outright.

  • (3) But the long-run trend coefficient for water of this project used in irrigation by MP and Rajasthan, and together by both is negative and significant. Moreover, the marginal decrease in the case of MP is higher than Rajasthan and thus MP is a greater victim of this decrease.
  • (4) Rajasthan is using more and more of Chambal Project water for non-irrigation uses. The average use of water by Rajasthan for this purpose was equal to 0.47 MAF in the period 1976-77 to 1985-86, which increased to 1.41 MAF in the period 1993-94 to 2002-03, an increase by a factor of three and which is equal to 41 per cent of net available water for use. It should be noted that when there is no provision for the use of the project water for non-irrigation purposes, Rajasthan is using the water of MP’s share to meet its non-irrigation requirements. In other words, Madhya Pradesh is bearing the burden of supplying water to the people of Rawatbhata, Kota and other towns. Why Madhya Pradesh should bear the responsibility of supplying water for the people of Rajasthan when its own people residing in the catchment area of Gandhi Sagar are being denied its use and a large number of villages and towns are left without a single source of water for drinking purposes in summer months is a question that one needs to deal with.
  • (5) The average amount of water that is being utilised for irrigation has decreased from 2.97 MAF in the period from 1976-77 to 1985-86 to 2.02 MAF in the period from 1993-94 to 2002-03, a decline of 32 per cent over time. The Chambal Project was undertaken only to supply water for irrigation in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. The declining share of irrigation in the net utilisable water should be taken seriously by the two states and the increasing utilisation of water for non-irrigation purposes should be checked. If Rajasthan prefers to use the water of the project for non-irrigation purposes, the same should be adjusted against its share.
  • (6) Madhya Pradesh has not been able to utilise its 50 per cent share of water in irrigation even out of the reduced proportion that is used for irrigation. There have been two factors behind this lack of capacity of MP to use its share to the full extent:
  • one is the negligence of maintenance of canals situated in MP and the other is the wide fluctuation in the quantity of water released to it. Rajasthan releases water for MP only after meeting its needs, which results in an irregular release of water to MP. This in turn results in fluctuations in supply of water in the canals, harming them. Madhya Pradesh should properly maintain the canals and Rajasthan should ensure that there is consistency in the supply of water to MP.

    (7) The last but most important conclusion is that the share of Rajasthan in the net available water is far greater than the water utilised by MP in its area. It was so even in the period 1976-77 to 1985-86. Since MP is unable to use more water in its area, it should be allowed to utilise this water in the catchment area of Gandhi Sagar, which is suffering great hardships and ecological distortion due to over utilisation of groundwater and lack of recharge of the same. If more surface water is allowed to be used through tanks, small dams, etc, it will decrease the burden of meeting the needs of irrigation from groundwater and increase the recharge as well. It will also decrease the necessity of the farmers of directly pumping water from rivers, nalas, etc, to irrigate their land.

    EPW

    Email: ganesh.kawadia@gmail.com

    Note

    1 We requested the information officer in the office of the chief engineer, Narmada-Tapti Valley, which is responsible for looking after Gandhi Sagar to give us a copy of the agreement reached between the two states and find that there is no mention of any ban on harvesting of surface water in the catchment area of Gandhi Sagar.

    References

    Central Ground Water Board (2003): Water Resources and Its Impact on Environment of Malwa Region, Bhopal.

    Chopra, K and G K Kadekodi (1999): Operationalising Sustainable Development: Ecological Modelling for Developing Countries, Sage Publications, New Delhi.

    Gupta, Ram Pratap and Ganesh Kawadia (2003): ‘Change in Rainfall-Runoff Relationship in Gandhi Sagar Dam’, Economic and Political Weekly, August 16.

    Gupta, Ram Pratap (2002): ‘Broken Promises and State-induced Impoverishment: Study of Gandhi Sagar Displaced People’, Man and Development, Vol XXIV, No 2, June.

    Jain, S M (undated): ‘Regression Exercises about Rainfall-Runoff Relationship’, presented at a 2003 meeting of the Chambal Control Board, unpublished.

    SPECIAL ISSUE

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    A Major National Initiative —K P Kannan, Ravi Srivastava, Arjun Sengupta

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