"Gujarat best at saving water"
Drought-hit Gujarat will now heave a sigh of relief as waters of Narmada from the Sardar Sarovar dam reach the state. Chief Minister Narendra Modi feels the state richly deserves it. While environmentalists cry foul, the said dam reaches a height of 100 metres. In an interview the CM says while drought did hit the state, its severity was much less.
The Sardar Sarovar dam has reached 100 metres. What are the immediate benefits to Gujarat?
We have been facing drinking water scarcity for the past two years. It is difficult to even imagine the plight of the people of Gujarat if we had not been able to supply Narmada water to them through canals and pipelines. With the dam reaching 100 metres, the reservoir can now hold 4.05 billion cubic metres. This year another bypass tunnel has become functional. This means the canal will get 12,000 cubic foot water per second even after the monsoon. We will be able to irrigate 200,000 hectares more and newer areas of Saurashtra, Kutch and north Gujarat will get Narmada water.
How does the dam benefit the other states?
Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh will start getting electricity once the dam touches 110 metres. The final height of the dam will be 138.68 metres and then even drought-prone Rajasthan will benefit.
Delay has pushed the cost up by billions. When do you think the dam will attain its designated height?
The Supreme Court judgment is quite clear. Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra have to rehabilitate the displaced with the raising of the height. Raising the height was delayed because Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh took time in rehabilitating the affected people. Gujarat has already rehabilitated all those people who would be affected if the dam reached 110 metres. If the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) allows increasing the height by 10 metres every year, we will reach the designated height by June 2005.
Narmada waters have reached Kutch through pipeline. When do you think water can reach Kutch through the main canal?
Drought-prone Kutch has suffered natural calamities like cyclones and earthquake. According to the original plan, the region was to benefit at the completion of the project. However, political will and engineering skills have made it possible to reach water to Kutch through pipeline. Of course, work on the canal is also on.