IN A symbolic gesture to strengthen its case for the speedy completion of the multi-purpose Narmada dam project, the Gujarat Government has decided to lift the water of the river for transportation by train to selected scarcity-hit areas of Saurashtra.
This was decided at the weekly Cabinet meeting held here this morning. As five to six trains carrying water are already being sent daily to Saurashtra from Khodiyar, near here, one train-load of Narmada water in three days is not likely to make any
difference to the situation, especially since it would have to travel an additional 200 kilometres from Bharuch on the busy railway corridor between Mumbai and Ahmedabad.
Hence , the move is seen more as a political stunt than as a serious effort to mitigate the hardships of the people in the drought-hit areas.
Although the contentious issue of the dam on river Narmada is still pending in the Supreme Court, the water from the river would be pumped out at Bharuch, nearly 90 kilometres downstream of the dam site, and sent by special trains to the areas which are
on the list of the places destined to get the water once the multi-purpose dam project is completed.
Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, who briefed the Press this evening, said that the Narmada water would be loaded into the train at the pumping site of the GNFC where a branch railway line is available.