While Phase I is already commissioned, officials say Phase II and III works are going on in full swing. Under Phase II, irrigation facilities in a 378,000-acre area of 57 reservoirs will be strengthened. Similarly, for Phase III, the target is a 2,81,000 acre area of 33 reservoirs.
New Delhi: Arid Saurashtra in Gujarat will soon have 'acchey din' as the ambitious Saurashtra Narmada Avatarana Irrigation Yojana (SAUNI) project is set to supplement floor water to about 115 existing dams. These dams have been selected based on the deficit storage study for the last ten years.
Phase I works started in April 2014 when Narendra Modi was still the chief minister of the western state. The project sought to strengthen irrigation facilities in 166,000-acre areas of 16 reservoirs. This phase of work is already commissioned at a total cost of Rs 6473 crore.
"With all the three phases done, the much talked about scarcity of water would be reduced in the Saurashtra region and in the ultimate, it will strengthen existing facilities of irrigation for as much as 8,24,871 acre land," says Rajkot Collector Arun Mahesh Babu.
The Saurashtra region is located in the western part of Gujarat along the Arabian coast. It covers 11 socially sensitive and politically crucial districts Rajkot, Jamnagar, Porbandar, Amreli, Junagadh, Bhavnagar, Surendranagar, Morbi, Devbhumi-Dwarka, Gir-Somnath and Botad.
Officials say the annual rainfall in the Saurashtra region is 450-600 mm and is received on average within 20-45 days. Water scarcity is an issue though efforts were made to harness rainwater through 63,000 check-dams, 73,000 farm ponds etc. "Some larger intervention is required and hence the relevance of the SAUNI project," says Collector Babu.
The Bhader Dam, built for irrigation in 1994, in Gondal taluka is, for example, about 50 kilometres away from Moti Parabdi village.
Farmers complain of water shortage for their fields as tapped water is used during crises to meet the drinking water needs of the Rajkot district. Villagers often have to resort to drilling exercise, harm agri prospects of their land, and incur expenditures.
Now, officials say the SAUNI project will make a big difference in the entire region.
When all the three phases of work are complete, a total of 115 dams will be filled up. These include 24 in Rajkot, six in Morbi, one in Gir-Somnath, 3 in Botad, 24 in Jamnagar, 13 in Junagadh, 12 in Amreli, and 11 in Bhavnagar and so on.
Sharing details of work progress, officials say Phase II and III works are going on in full swing. Under Phase II, irrigation facilities in a 378,000-acre area of 57 reservoirs will be strengthened. Similarly, for Phase III, the target is a 2,81,000 acre area of 33 reservoirs.
Answering questions, Collector Babu says, "Since the commissioning of Phase I, citizens got the benefit of the scheme in 2017 and 2018, and sufficient quantity of drinking and domestic water has been supplemented in Rajkot, Jamnagar, Bhavnagar, Gondal city and Botad district among others.
In many villages, according to common people, the farmers are even eager to install check dams on their farms. Of course, they can do so only with government support.