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Over 55% of the SSP command is prone to waterlogging and salinisation. The plans to prevent this, from occurring are based on completely untried methodologies and a very high level of technological sophistication that has not been tested, even on a pilot scale, anywhere in India under realistic field conditions.

The canal operation policy of the SSP is also based on several desirable but completely untried options. The large quantities of water that will be supplied to Baroda, Bharuch and Khera districts in the initial stages of the project will lead to large-scale cultivation of water-intensive crops. As the experience of the Ukai command shows, it will be politically impossible to subsequently reduce the amount of water allocated and expect farmers to switch back to less remunerative crops.

The power benefits of the SSP are vastly exaggerated. Even though the installed capacity is 1450 MW, the highest firm power generation is only 439 MW, dropping to 50 MW once the canals start operating. In the absence of the NSP in the initial stages power benefits will drop by at least 28%. The SSP will consume more power than it produces for Gujarat.

The needy regions of Gujarat - Saurashtra, Kutch and North Gujarat, are unlikely to get any of the overall benefits of this project. The already rich and politically powerful "mainline corridor" of Central Gujarat will certainly benefit, further cementing its dominance in the state. Kutch and Saurashtra will doubly suffer: the SSP already eats up 80% of the 8th 5-year plan allocation for Gujarat, leaving no money for provision of alternative water supply schemes to these needy areas. Several alternate supply schemes available with the state district irrigation boards are languishing for lack of funds.

The SSP appears to be completely unviable from a financial standpoint. Only about 10% of total project costs have been spent to date. Further foreign funding is unlikely to be obtained, and the probability of domestic funding is remote.

The SSP needs to be comprehensively reviewed by an unbiased body to ascertain whether the vast costs of the projects will translate into benefits at the scale claimed by the project authorities. The Government of India owes at least this much to the people of Gujarat and the country.

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