Two days after the floods in Narmada and Bharuch receded following drop in waters from the Sardar Sarovar Narmada dam, politics over the sudden release of waters that inundated two districts causing widespread damages continues to intensify with both the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) calling the floods as “man-made calamity.”
On Thursday, the opposition Congress yet again blamed the State government for not “following the manual” to gradually discharge water from the dam and then suddenly releasing, that caused inundation and massive damages to agriculture, markets and industrial facilities along the Narmada coast in Ankleshwar and Bharuch towns.
“It was a man-made disaster, thanks to the mismanagement by the State government,” said Congress leader Himmatsinh Patel, who led a delegation to visit the flood-affected areas on Thursday.
He also demanded a special package for the victims and the affected people who suffered as their farms had been washed away destroying standing crops. Household items also destroyed in above five feet waters in several villages and low lying areas.
The AAP and several NGOs also blamed the State government for mismanaging the situation and lack of timely response that led to the disastrous floods. “The government allowed the water to accumulate in the dam to let it artificially overflow on September 17 to coincide with the Prime Minister’s birthday,” said AAP’s Sagar Rabari, who shared data of release of waters from the dam from September 10 onwards.
According to him, Bharuch and Narmada never witnessed such floods since 1970. “It was completely avoidable. They should have gradually released the water from the dam in previous days before it overflowed on September 17.
Infuriated people vent their outbursts on social media platforms holding the authorities accountable for the floods. Also, when Cabinet Minister Kuvarji Halpati visited some sites, he faced protests by the crowds on Wednesday, while Ankleshwar BJP MLA Ishwar Patel also faced angry crowds in his constituency on Thursday.
The Sardar Sarovar dam over the Narmada river in south Gujarat released almost 18 lakh cusecs of water on September 17, leading to floods in Narmada, Bharuch and parts of Vadodara district for two days.
The release of massive amounts of water after it touched its full reservoir level of 138.68 metres on September 17 morning, in the Narmada river due to heavy rains in the catchment areas in neighbouring Madhya Pradesh, caused floods, prompted the authorities to evacuate over 500 people and relocating over 10,000 from low lying areas to shelters.
In fact, on September 17, Gujarat Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel had flown to Kevadiya, the site of Narmada dam, in the morning to welcome the Narmada waters as the dam had overflown and waters were released by opening the dam gates. The day also marked Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 73rd birthday.
On Friday evening, the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam, which manages the Narmada project, issued a release giving details of the water flow coming from Madhya Pradesh and outflow from the dam.
The release stated that due to extremely heavy rainfall in Madhya Pradesh, the dam witnessed unprecedented inflow of waters from the catchment areas, forcing the State government to open the gates to release waters in the downstream river.
The SSNNL claimed that inflow was almost 22 lakh cusecs against which the outflow was 18 lakh cusecs due to “prudent management” by the government which diverted some of waters into canals to fill water bodies in other areas.