Due to water scarcity, villagers of this dry region of Gujarat resort to drilling exercises. In the process, they harm agri prospects of their land. Now, the SAUNI project will make a big difference in the entire region
Arid Saurashtra in Gujarat will soon have ‘Acche Din’ as the much ambitious Saurashtra Narmada Avtaran 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. The phase-I works started in April 2014 when Narendra Modi was still the Chief Minister of the Western State and the project sought to strengthen irrigation facilities in 166,000 acre areas of 16 reservoirs. This phase of works is already commissioned at a total cost of Rs 6,473 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,” said Rajkot Collector, Arun Mahesh Babu.
Saurashtra region is located in Western part of Gujarat along the Arabian Coast and covers 11 socially sensitive and politically crucial districts of Rajkot, Jamnagar, Porbandar, Amreli, Junagadh, Bhavnagar, Surendranagar, Morbi, Devbhumi-Dwarka, Gir-Somnath and Botad.
Dealing With Water Scarcity
Officials revealed that the annual rainfall in 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 and 73,000 farm ponds etc. “Some larger intervention is required and hence the relevance of the SAUNI project becomes all the more crucial,” said the Collector. Local people, especially in villages, have their problems. The Bhadar Dam, built for irrigation in 1994, in Gondal taluka is, for example, about 50 kilometers away from Moti Parabadi village.
Farmers complain of water shortage for their fields as tapped water is used during crises to meet the drinking water needs of Rajkot district.
Villagers often have to resort to drilling exercises and in the process harm agri prospects of their land and also have to incur expenditures. Now, officials are unanimous in their opinion that the SAUNI project will make a big difference in the entire region.
When all the three phases of works are complete, a total of 115 dams would be filled up. These include 24 in Rajkot, six in Morbi, one in Gir-Somnath, three in Botad, 24 in Jamnagar, 13 in Junagadh, 12 in Amreli and 11 in Bhavnagar.
Sharing details of work progress, officials said that the phase II and III works are going on in full swing. Under phase II, irrigation facilities in 378,000 acre area of 57 reservoirs will be strengthened. Similarly for phase III, the target is 2,81,000 acre-area of 33 reservoirs.
Explaining how the work is being carried out, Arun Mahesh Babu said, “Since the commissioning of phase I, citizens got benefit of the scheme in 2017 and 2018 and sufficient quantity of drinking and domestic water have been supplemented in Rajkot, Jamnagar, Bhavnagar, Gondal city and Botad district among others.”
In many villages of Saurashtra, 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.