Cracking down on the illegal drawing of water from Narmada dam canals, the Gujarat government proposes to make the law more stringent by bringing in an amendment in the existing Drainage Act, 2013.
After having dealt with thousands of instances of illegal water withdrawal, damaging the canal network and irrigation systems, the Gujarat Irrigation Department has now decided to increase the penalties levied on such violators.
For this, an amendment will be brought in the current session of the Assembly by Energy Minister Saurabh Patel. There will be amendments in two sections for the violations and penalties in the Gujarat Irrigation and Drainage Act, 2013.
According to the amendment, the existing penalty of imprisonment for a term which may extended up to three months or a fine up to Rs 5,000 or both for letting cattle graze nearby the canal or dam, damaging the canals and dams or harming the vegetation grown nearby such structures will replaced by a fine of at least Rs 10,000.
The persons raising or lowering the water levels of the canals by putting obstructions in its flow or drawing water in unauthorised manner by electric motors or other instruments without damaging the canals will face similar punishment.
Persons violating the rules and interfering with the distribution arrangement of regulating and controlling water flow and damaging the canal structures shall be punished with imprisonment of a maximum of one year or fine up to Rs 50,000 or both. The same punishment will also be imposed on persons who pollute canal waters with industry-released liquid waste.
The authorities often face stiff opposition from miscreants with political influence when they carry out raids to check illegal theft of Narmada waters. For such violators, the penalty will be a maximum imprisonment of one-and-a-half years or a fine of Rs 1 lakh or both.
Successful or unsuccessful attempts of breaking into the canal network by inserting pipes attached with water motors will be punished with an imprisonment of a maximum of two years or a fine of Rs two lakh or both.
The canal officers will have the authority to confiscate the equipment to draw illegal waters and equipment damaging the canal. Such instruments will be returned by payment of penalty of Rs one lakh.