Even as the multi-crore Narmada Dam project remains mired in controversy and also under litigation, the Gujarat Government is toying with the idea of yet another mega dam-cum-road across the Gulf of Khambat, linking Bhavnagar with Bharuch and thus
harnessing the entire water resources upstream.
Named the Kalpasar Project, the venture envisages the construction of a 64-km long dam linking Ghogha port on the eastern Saurashtra coast with Hansot in Bharuch district.
Apart from creating a huge sweet water reservoir by blocking all the rivers flowing into the Gulf of Khambat, the Kalpasar Project is also likely to provide a shorter road link between southern Gujarat and the Saurashtra peninsula. The ambitious project
would also have the provision for tidal power generation by installation of turbines in the dam basin.
The project, originally perceived as early as in 1989, was picked up by the BJP Ministry led by the Chief Minister, Mr Keshubhai Patel, who had also given the green signal for conducting the pre-feasibility survey. The report of the specific studies,
prepared in collaboration with a consulting firm of the Netherlands, estimates the total project cost in the vicinity of Rs 53,916 crores at current prices.
The feasibility report, presented to the Chief Minister recently, notes that the Kalpasar Project would provide irrigation to more than a million hectares of land and generate tidal power of 5,880 megawatt. But, the environmental impact of constructing a
64 kilometer-long dam-cum-road link has not been mentioned as yet.
Experts are already apprehensive that such an artificial barrier between sea water and sweet water may lead to increased salinity ingress in the nearby coastal areas.
It has also been clarified that the Kalpasar Project is not an alternative to the controversial Narmada project, but would only serve to supplement its irrigation potential in the Saurashtra region which faces perennial water scarcity.
The other benefits of the Kalpasar project have been listed as land reclamation, domestic and industrial water supply, navigation facilities and fisheries.