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A long way yet for Narmada waters
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Thursday, October 19, 2000

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A long way yet for Narmada waters

GANDHINAGAR, OCT 18: While the Supreme Court has given the go-ahead to the ambitious Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP), it will take at least two years for the Narmada watersto flow into the canal to satiate the thirst of millions in the parched lands of Gujarat.

And, it may take even longer before the Narmada waters start irrigating the planned 17.93 lakh hectares in 3,360 villages of 62 talukas in 14 districts of the state because the necessary pipeline network is not yet ready. Besides, official sources say that the SSP will benefit farmers only after the dam height reaches 110 metres.

Sources say that even the expected supply of drinking water from the dam would be possible only after the height was taken to 95 metres and the entire canal network was completed. As yet, work on only 263 kms out of the total 458 kms of the main canal has been completed.

However, Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel has assured the people that they would not have to wait for long for drinking water from the Narmada. A scheme to tap the water overflowing the present 85-metre structure of the dam will be launched by the year-end. This will reportedly help ease the drinking water problem in the coming summer to some extent.

At his post-Cabinet press briefing, the Chief Minister said the construction work to raise the dam height to 90 metres would start a week after containing the overflow. The Narmada authorities will have to reduce the water level by at least four metres by opening the sluice gates, he explained.

Responding to a query, Patel claimed the Narmada waters would start flowing into the main canal after the dam height reached 95 metres. ``We propose to complete the civil work up to 90 metres, as permitted by the SC initially, in the next two to three months, while permission for another five metres will be sought from the Narmada Control Authority immediately after that,'' he said.

A senior engineer in the Narmada Nigam said work on the 458-km long main canal has been completed up to 263 kms in phase I up to Mahi. Work on phase II beyond Mahi and up to Kadi in Mehsana district was in progress and on the verge of completion. He said work on the 23 branches, covered under phase I, was over, while it is in progress on eight of the 19 branches under phase II. Besides, work is in full swing on the 88 kms of the 104 km-long Saurashtra branch. It will take at least two to three years to complete it, he said.

The engineer said funds were no constraint, at least for the time being,because a provision of Rs 1,300 crore had been made in the 2000-2001 State budget. He admitted that more funds would be required to complete the canal network, including the distribution system.

Copyright © 2000 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.


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