Former Gujarat minister in the previous BJP government Jay Narayan Vyas Friday said the recent flooding by the Narmada river that inundated towns and villages downstream was due to “criminal negligence” of officials of Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL), a government arm that operates and manages the Sardar Sarovar Dam.
“The primary objective of the dam was flood management and protection. You (SSNNL) could not even properly manage the water flow (in and out of dam). It is criminal negligence on part of SSNNL that they did not release water despite heavy inflows into the dam from September 13,” Vyas, who later joined Congress, told reporters.
The veteran leader said that the claims of a “cloud burst” in the catchment areas of Narmada are false. “You had prior intimation of rains in Madhya Pradesh. This information comes on a daily basis. Why didn’t you take cognizance?” he asked.
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The Narmada Main canal has a capacity to carry 40,000 cusecs, but not more than 25,000 cusecs of water is allowed to flow into main canal, pointed out Vyas who was a minister for Narmada in the BJP government. “You keep on promising to give 1 million acre feet of flood waters from Narmada each to Saurashtra, Kutch and North Gujarat. Why didn’t you provide the waters to these regions this time?” he asked.
Vyas also questioned as to what steps were taken by Gujarat State Disaster Management Authority (GSDMA) when floodwaters from Narmada inundated parts of Narmada, Bharuch and Vadodara districts. “Did you alert GSDMA which is headed by a competent officer Dr Rajiv Kumar Gupta. What steps did GSDMA take to counter the flood,” Vyas asked.
It was alleged that Vadodara, Bharuch and Narmada were damaged after “over 18 lakh cusec water” was released suddenly from the dam on September 17. Thousands of resdents were evacuated to safety.