The SSP plans to irrigate 1.8 million ha of land spread over 12 districts in Gujarat (See Table 1) and an additional 75,000 ha in Rajasthan. The command area of the SSP has been divided into thirteen agroclimatic zones (ORG 1982) which form the basis for irrigation planning (Map 2). This irrigation is to occur through a network of 75,000 Kin of canals, including a main canal 460 Km in length and 35 branch canals of various lengths. It is planned to supply water to the canals on a volumetric, rotational basis. In addition, it is planned to dewater the canal system beyond the Mahi river for 2.5 months from March 1 to May 15 (SSNNL 1989), though recently the SSNNL has asserted that dewatering will only occur "for a month or so" (NCA 1991).
A close look shows that the irrigation plans of the SSP are fraught with problems, based on flawed assumptions that make the plans socially, politically, technically and economically unworkable. Our analysis is based on several factors, including quantum of water, water efficiency of the canal system, waterlogging and salinity problems in the command, lacunae in the planned administrative system for the canals, the effect of the Narmada Sagar Project not being built, siltation, dependence on ground water, financial reasons, and political factors at work in Gujarat.Quantum of Water
As stated earlier, the 75% dependable flow of the river is likely to be 17% less than estimated by the project planners in designing the canal system. In addition, the use of water by Gujarat for irrigation depends critically on the graduated release of water from upstream projects in Madhya Pradesh (Narmada Sagar, Maheshwar and Omkareshwar). None of these projects is going to be ready by the time the SSP is ready. Indeed, their very existence at any stage is becoming increasingly improbable. The Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award had ruled that 85% of the water allocated for use in Gujarat and Rajasthan was to be provided in the form of regulated release from reservoirs upstream in Madhya Pradesh. The NWDTA determined that, without the Narmada Sagar Project, the irrigation and power benefits of the SSP would