Answers to some very commonly and frequently asked questions related to the Sardar Sarovar Project are briefly presented here.   

Q. When all the available water is likely to be consumed by the less needy areas of Central Gujarat before it ever reaches Kutch and Saurashtra, besides only 1.6% of the total cultivable land of Kutch and 9.24% of the cultivable land of Saurashtra are in the SSP command area. Project would benefit rich farmers, then how the project proposes to solve the severe drought problems of Kutch and Saurashtra, the two drier parts of Gujarat at the tail end of the canal system?

It is a fact that a large number of areas in Saurashtra and Kutch could not be brought under the command of SSP because of the limited allotment of Narmada waters to Gujarat and the main canal being a gravity canal which has to run on falling contour to cover maximum areas. Gravity irrigation has limitations of the inclusion of more areas of these regions to be covered by the command. Efforts have been made to give maximum benefits to these regions by providing drinking water to all areas in the command and also outside the command in these regions. The irrigation by Narmada in Saurashtra would be about five times and in Kutch about three times of the present annual irrigation by surface water. In addition, all the urban centres and villages of these regions, whether in command or out side command, shall get the benefits of drinking water supply. There will not be any water supply for irrigation during the summer but the canal will run continuously for supply of drinking water except for a period of about 15 days or so when the system has to be closed for maintenance. The infrastructure to deliver water to these regions shall definitely take some more time. The work on the Kutch and Saurashtra branch canals and their sub-branches in the command is already in progress.

The farmers who will get the benefit of irrigation from SSP in Gujarat would be

Marginal farmers ( < 1 ha )

28.0%

Small farmers (1 2 ha )

24.4%

Schedule Caste farmers

8.7%

Schedule Tribe farmers

9.1%

Further the project is designed to benefit about 75% of the drought prone areas.

The Government of Gujarat has allocated 1.06 MAF of water for industrial and domestic use out of its share of 9 MAF of Narmada water allocated to it. The Gujarat Water Supplies and Sewerage Board and the State Industries Department have formulated a detailed scheme to utilize this water. Out of this quantity 0.893 MAF (1.052 billion M3) is earmarked for drinking water supplies and the rest for industrial uses. A drinking water supply scheme has been planned to cater to the needs of 135 urban centres and 8215 villages in Gujarat. The scheme shall cover all the no-source villages falling within and out side the command in the North Gujarat, Saurashtra and Kutch regions. The drinking water scheme is not part of the Sardar Sarovar Project but is being planned and implemented by the Government of Gujarat separately.

Q. Why an independent agency should not be appointed to monitor works on the project ?

The Tribunal's Award is final and binding on the States. The machinery of Narmada Control Authority has been envisaged and constituted under the Award itself . Apart from the Union of India, the other States are also represented in this Authority. The Project is being undertaken by the Government and it is for the government authorities to execute the same. With the establishment of various subgroups and subcommittees to monitor the provisions of the acts and clearances granted by the Govt of India there is a system in force to ensure satisfactory compliances.

There is in place an elaborate network of authorities which have to see to the execution and implementation of the project in terms of the Award. All aspects of the project are supervised and there is a Review Committee which can review any decision of the Narmada Control Authority and each of the three rehabilitating States have set up an independent Grievances Redressal Authority to take care that the relief and rehabilitation measures are properly implemented and the grievances of the oustees if any are redressed.

Even the Honorable Supreme Court was satisfied that more than adequate steps are being taken by the States not only to implement the Award of the Tribunal to the extent it grants relief to  oustees, but the effort is to substantially improve thereon .

Dams are necessarily to be regarded as an infrastructure project. There are three stages with regard to the undertaking of an infrastructure project. The first one is conception or planning, second is decision to undertake the project and the third is the execution of the project. The conception and the decision to undertake a project is to be regarded as a policy decision. While there is always a need for such projects not being unduly delayed, it is at the same time expected that as thorough a study as is possible will be undertaken before a decision is taken to start a project. Once such a considered decision is taken, the proper execution of the same should be taken expeditiously. The Govt. has already put a system in place for the execution of a project.

Q. Why large size water harvesting structures are allowed when small water harvesting structures can do the job ? 

Water harvesting means to collect, preserve and use the rain water. One of the essential ingredients of water harvesting is the storing of water. The biggest dams to the smallest percolating tanks meant to tap the rain water are nothing but water harvesting structures to function by receiving water from the common rainfall. The reservoir of a dam stores water and is location specific where it can receive a lot of rainfall, the canals take water from this reservoir to distant places where water is a scare commodity. The problem of the area in question is that there is deficient rainfall and small scale water harvesting projects may not be adequate. Therefore, there is a need for high dam like Sardar Sarovar in addition to water harvesting through small structures. 

Dam serves a number of purpose. It stores water, generates electricity and releases water throughout the year and at times of scarcity. Its storage capacity is meant to control floods and the canal system which emanates from there is meant to convey and provide water for drinking, agriculture and industry. In addition thereto, it can also be a source of generating hydro-power. 

To conserve surface and ground water through minor irrigation schemes, such as check dams, percolation tanks, gully plugging and other conservation methods can be only supplementary and not alternatives. Such measures help in the sustain of drinking water sources to some extent and that too if the rainfall is adequate. In Gujarat, due to vagaries of monsoon time and again, replenishment of medium and minor irrigation reservoirs has been meager.

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