Slow work on Narmada canal to increase Gujarat water woes

Gujarat this monsoon has received 50 percent deficient rains.

Ahmedabad: The slow construction work on the canal network of Narmada dam project, which is considered to be the lifeline of Gujarat, is likely to aggravate water scarcity in the state, where deficient monsoon has led to acute shortage.

Out of the total 74,626 kms canal network of Narmada dam the work completed so far is of just 19,885 Kms which comes to about 27 percent of total work.

In the last three years the BJP government has just been able to complete 289. 22 kms canal network work.

The total amount spend so far by the state on the Narmada dam and canal network project is Rs 24,022 crores.

Narmada being a perennial river, harnessing of its water by building a huge dam and distributing it to through canal network for drinking and irrigational purposes is a lifeline project of the state for water, where scarcity of water due to deficient rains has been the norm.

"Instead of playing politics over the issue of Narmada dam project the state government should expedite the work of Narmada canal network, so that lakhs of people of Gujarat can get drinking water and farmers can get water for irrigation," Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said.

Gujarat water resources minister Nitin Patel had recently blamed the Congress government at the Centre for not allowing the increase in the height of the dam from 121.92 mtrs to 146.5 mtrs.

Gujarat this monsoon has received 50 percent deficient rains and especially in scarcity prone areas of the state like Saurashtra and Kutch the deficiency of the rains is very high as the region has just received less than 25 percent rains.

Already the local municipal corporation in the main city of Saurashtra--Rajkot-- has announced water supply cuts, and now people are provided water for 15 minutes on alternate days. More than 220 villages of Saurashtra are provided water by tankers.

The state government has also announced that it has decided to reserve the water present in reservoirs of Saurashtra and Kutch for drinking purpose only.

The Gujarat government in a written reply to a question of Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee president Arjun Modhvadia in the State assembly had said that the height of dam cannot be raised from present 121.92 mts to 146.5 mts due to non-granting of approval of Narmada Control Authority as Maharashtra has not completed rehabilitation work for dam outstees.

The state government has further said that it has taken various steps for acquiring land of farmers for setting up canal network, like the decision to give liberal compensation to farmers for their land, create awareness of benefits of the canal network and outsource land acquisition work in the last three years.

"The state government said tenders of 139 canal works has been awarded which will facilitate construction of 13,167 kms of canal work. Tendering process is on for another 556 kms pipeline," state Narmada department officials said.