beyond Rs. 25-000 crores. (As an interesting comparison, the total cost of all the major and medium irrigation projects built in India from Independence till 1985 is only Rs. 15,000 crores.)
According to a press release issued by the Chairman of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam, the Government had spent about Rs. 2,300 crores on the project till June 1993. This is just about 10% of total costs, and thus the argument that most of the expenditure on the project has already been incurred is hollow and untenable. What needs to be examined is how much more money needs to be spent on the project, and whether it is at all feasible to obtain such finances. The tendency to throw good money after bad must be resisted.
Where does the Government hope to obtain funds for the project? After the withdrawal of the World Bank from the SSP, all hopes of funding from international donor agencies and foreign governments have disappeared. This is specially significant in view of the fact that approximately 50% of the amount already spent on the project came from the World Bank. By the withdrawal of the World Bank, the project has lost Rs. 530 crore from the cancelled loan, Rs. 310 crore from the Japanese, and an additional Rs. 1,400 crore in the form of additional funding proposals already submitted to the World Bank, a total of Rs. 2235 crores.
In the wake of the World Bank withdrawal, attention was focussed on the financial aspects of the project. The Government announced plans to obtain funds from NRIs, by floating Narmada Bonds and by obtaining Rs. 1000 per acre from every farmer who is supposed to benefit from the project. The government also wants to privatize the Rs.2,700 crore power component of the project.
The proposal for funding by NRIs is still to get off the ground, An earlier proposal was rejected by the Reserve Bank, and a complete new proposal is yet to be formulated. The Narmada Bonds, or Narmada Vikas Patra that the Gujarat Government was supposed to float, have yet to show results. Currently the authorities are trying to persuade all cooperatives in Gujarat to invest their funds in the SSP, an attempt that seems to have met with very limited success. The ludicrous proposal to raise contributions from farmers who are supposed to be beneficiaries is not even worthy of comment except to point out that such an exercise is politically impossible. The attempt to privatize the power component of the project will depend on the success of ongoing privatization of power