The work of entire canal network of Sardar Sarovar Dam on river Narmada including the distributary canals to every farmland is likely to be completed by 2015, announced the state government on Wednesday. It further said that the 30-year-old gates have been inspected and were found technically in good condition to be installed on the dam.
State government spokesperson Nitin Patel said that since the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) has permitted increase of dam height to maximum level of 138 meters and installation of gates on the dam, the work on the raising the dam height will begin soon after the monsoon season. Explaining the details of the construction work that needs to be undertaken, Patel said that installation of gates and raising the height of the dam to 138.68 meters would take at least three years.
“Once the work begins on the dam after the monsoon, first the pillars will be erected and then the gates will be installed. After the required height is reached we cannot close the gates to increase the level in the reservoir to feed the canal network. We will have to seek permission of the Supreme Court to close the gates,” Patel further explained. “This entire process is likely to take nearly three years after work begins,” he added.
The minister also refuted the allegations made by the Gujarat Congress that the gates that were to be installed on dam very old. “We have got the gates inspected, they are technically in good condition and can be installed,” he assured.
On the unfinished work of the proposed 75,000 km canal network (including main canal and distribution network), Patel explained that the work on canal network could not be completed because of various issues including litigation over land acquisition, alignment of canal where it had to pass through forest land or near railway line. “The work on main canal has been completed. Since we faced problems with land acquisition for sub-canal and distributary canal systems some work is remaining which we plan to complete by 2015,” said Patel.
The length of the main canal is 458.318 km which has been completed. Out of the planned 74,622 km network of branch canals, distributaries and minor canals, around 25,000 km (or nearly 34 per cent) has been completed so far. According to state government sources the remaining 66 per cent of canal network, which is necessary to bring water to farmers’ fields is to be completed. The branch network is 90 per cent complete, while only 21 per cent of the distributaries and 34 per cent of minor canal network, have been completed.
Once completed (with dam height 138.68 meters) the water from the dam will be used to irrigate 1.905 million hectares land including 1.8 million hecaters in Gujarat benefitting nearly one million farmers. As per the project plan it will also provide drinking water to 9,633 villages and 131 towns of Gujarat benefiting 29 million people.
The Sardar Sarovar Project will also irrigate 2,46,000 hectares of land in the strategic desert districts of Barmer and Jallore in Rajasthan and 37,500 hectares in the tribal hilly tract of Maharashtra. About 75 per cent of the command area in Gujarat is drought prone while entire command in Rajasthan is drought prone.