The benefits claimed for the SSP do not stand up to scrutiny. The benefits claimed for the project have been consistently, systematically and deliberately overstated by the project authorities. It is highly unlikely that the project will perform as planned, a view supported by the World Bank Independent Review (Morse and Berger 1992).
At the very outset, the amount of water available in the river has been overestimated by 17%. In addition, it is highly unlikely that the Narmada Sagar Project upstream in Madhya Pradesh will be built, further reducing the amount of water available for use by the SSP to about 58-69% of what was originally assumed and planned for. This reduction distorts the entire project, and will substantially reduce drinking water, irrigation and power benefits. However, the SSP authorities are wilfully ignoring this most basic fact.
The drinking water benefits claimed for the SSP are completely unsubstantiated. There is no detailed plan available to date. The current limited planning effort is careless, incompetent and riddled with inconsistencies. While project authorities claim that the project will be completed by 2000 A.D., the World Bank feels that a realistic schedule is for Saurashtra to get drinking water by 2020 and Kutch by 2025. Rhetorical flourishes are substituted for plans and the lack of careful and realistic studies.
All realistic appraisals indicate that the system will provide much less water than promised, and at a very large cost, which has not been included in the project. So far, the government has not given any firm estimate of this cost (beyond stating that It will cost "several thousand crores"), nor has it allocated any funds for It. There is a strong possibility that drinking water from the SSP will be used for the large cities of central Gujarat, and that the drought-hit people of Kachchh and Saurashtra will be left high and dry.
The SSP is likely to irrigate only 44-52% of the 1.8 million ha. claimed by the project authorities as the amount of water available for irrigation is substantially less than planned for. Furthermore, the authorities have made completely unrealistic assumptions about the efficiency of the canal system. The efficiency is likely to be closer to 45% rather than the 60% claimed. This will further reduce water available for irrigation.