In view of expediting development work in the Narmada canal area, the Narendra Modi government at the Centre is expected to provide 90 per cent financial assistance, under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP), to the Gujarat government soon for the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP). Under the AIBP scheme, the Centre bears 90 per cent of the financial burden for any project in any state.
This will help cover irrigation area of 8.73 lakh hectares of the total 18.45 hectares.
Under pressure to complete the project, this is the second demand made by the Gujarat government to the Centre, apart from seeking the installation of gates on Sardar Sarovar Dam.
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In this regard, some of the top officials of Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) recently held a meeting with the authorities concerned in Delhi. With Modi, the former chief minister of Gujarat, now holding fort at the Centre, the demands are likely to be cleared soon.
Earlier, when Modi was the chief minister, he had written to the then prime minister Manmohan Singh in this regard four times in a row between 2011 to 2013. “We have met the authorities concerned and made the representation once again,” said a top-level SSNNL official.
However, there has never been a word on how much the Anandi Patel government is looking for in terms of financial assistance. “We haven’t quoted any figure. It would also not be appropriated to do so,” he added.
Modi had time and again urged the Centre that under AIBP, areas in the state covered under Desert Development Program (DDP) should be considered at par with the areas under Drought Prone Area Program (DPAP), and so 90 per cent financial assistance under AIBP should be provided for Narmada command area development under Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP).
The SSP, for which foundation was laid by late prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru in 1961, has been considered the
lifeline of the parched regions of Gujarat.
However, in the absence of minor and sub-minor canals, more than three decades after the water distribution was decided among the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra, the water is yet to reach more than half of its command area. Although the project started in 1982, 60 per cent work of the total nearly 75,000-km long canal networking work is still pending.
According to SSNNL, 90 per cent DDP grant will help the state to further proceed with building minor pipeline network, which so far covers command area of 7.19 lakh hectare of total 18.45 hectare.
According to the Gujarat government, even the Planning Commission and the Union Water Resource Ministry has supported Gujarat’s stand on the issue. He mentioned that based on the Planning Commission’s recommendation, similar grants for three projects, including two in Punjab and 1 in Karnataka, were sanctioned.
Large parts of SSP’s command area is under DPAP and DDP. Of the total 18.45 lakh hectare of command area, an area of 5.08 lakh hectare is under DPAP and 8.73 lakh hectares under DDP.