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Costs

The cost of supplying drinking water is estimated variously at 728 crores (GWSSB 1983) or, very roughly, at "several thousand crores" (NCA 1991). This cost has not been factored into any overall cost-estimate of the SSP even though drinking water is a prominently mentioned benefit of the project.The entire cost-benefit ratio of the project may change if a realistic estimate of this expense is added. Thus the SSP authorities have been deceiving the people of Gujarat by claiming drinking water as a benefit, when they have no idea of the cost, and even less of how they are supposed to find the money. While the SSNNL washes its hands off the question of drinking water and puts the entire burden on the GWSSB, the latter professes to be completely in the dark about where funding is supposed to come from.

The moral imperative of supplying drinking water holds true only if the beneficiaries are in drought-hit areas with no other sources of water, not in cities with assured drinking water sources such as Ahmedabad and Vadodara. Nevertheless, the financial implications of spending an additional "several thousand crores" are very grave, especially in light of the extremely tight fiscal situation of the Gujarat and Central Governments. The SSP has already had to curtail work on the canals because of severe cash constraints, and there is no sign that the situation is likely to improve in the near future.

If the cost of drinking water supply had been included in the original proposal, the SSP may not have received clearance from the Central Government. The late unveiling of this additional cost is an attempt to present the Central government with a fait accompli, expenditure already incurred is being cited as a reason for further expenditure. This argument - that "we have already spent so much money, how can we stop now" - is the standard justification used for projects which run into problems due to environmental concerns or even cost/time overruns.

The geographical spread of the beneficiaries (the area of Kutch and Saurashtra alone is 109,630 sq. km) requires very large pumping capacities, thousands of kilometres of pipeline construction and maintenance, filtering and treatment plants, and setting up or augmenting an extensive bureaucratic and technical infrastructure, all of which are very expensive. The planned 2.5 month annual dewatering of the canal system (NPG 1989) [? sic-ed] will require the construction or improvement of existing storage facilities, an additional cost (Some recent



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