Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s inauguration of the ambitious Saurashtra Narmada Avtaran Irrigation Yojna, or SAUNI project cannot be simply portrayed as one of the several overtures of political parties in poll bound Gujarat. The project aims to bring an ultimate resolution to the water problems in the perennially parched regions of Saurashtra. This massive Rs 12,000 crore irrigation scheme targets filling up 115 dams from the Sardar Sarovar dam and 58 km of pipeline is being developed in phase 1 of the project.
In Phase 1, the areas that are being covered include districts of Jamnagar, Morbi and Rajkot. A total of 47,943 hectares will be covered and developed at a cost of 1,562 crore and will generate 6,475 MCFT of water from Narmada canal network that is set to benefit a total of 10 dams in the region.
Unlike many other traditional irrigation projects, what’s unique about this SAUNI projects is that it is more of a ‘linking’ project and it will go on to fill water in irrigation dams that already have extensive canal network. This then will enable direct flow of this water to agricultural land and farms. This is perhaps why SAUNI involves a lot more pipe canals rather than conventional open canals. This also resolves the land acquisition problems that the Government faced during the Narmada project. SAUNI pipelines are mostly underground and the pumping stations are being constructed on government land.
The four key trunk pipelines namely Link 1-4 will supply water to the sub pipelines. However the only concern area of this project is the electricity consumption as the water is planned to be pumped using motors running on electricity. The state Government’s monthly electricity bill could rise to Rs 7.56 crore on full commission assuming 84,000 kVA motors run on full load. Would the Government charge this from the farmers? Or would it go from the State Government’s fund and how expensive would the project then turn out to be? Well Clamorworld will wait for more clarifications from the Government on that issue. The need is surely to replicate this model on a national scale.