Even as the Gujarat government faces severe criticism for lagging well behind schedule in completing the canal network for the Sardar Sarovar (Narmada) Project, it has excluded 28,477 hectare of land from the command area of the project of Bara Tract region of Bharuch district. The government informed the Assembly of the decision on Tuesday, while also giving the new deadline to complete the minor and sub-minor canal network in phase-I of the project.
Savli MLA Ketan Inamdar asked how much canal network was to be laid for the project in phase I and how much work was completed. Phase I of the project covers main canal of the project, a distance of 144.5 km.
In reply to this, Cabinet minister Bhupendrasinh Chudasama said that in phase I, the total length of minor and sub-minor canals was 4,434 km and 11,562 km respectively. Of this, work on 4,224 km of minor canals and 7,978 km of sub-minor canals has been completed which means that 210 km of minor canals and 3,584 km of sub-minor canals are yet to be laid. However, Chudasama added that 99 km of proposed minor canals and 1,540 km of sub-minor canals have been excluded from the project. So, length of minor canals and sub-minor canal networks has come down to 111 km and 2,044 km respectively.
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The minister further said that it has been decided to implement drip-irrigation and micro-irrigation methods in the excluded areas. Bara-Tract Region falls between Vagra and Jambusar of Bharuch district.
Sources said that the state government has already ruled out around 70,000 hectare of land from Narmada command areas and plans to finish the unfinished minor and sub-minor canal network of phase I by March 2015 and March 2017 respectively at a total cost of Rs 358.82 crore. In reply to another question related to the Narmada Project, Gujarat Government has told the Assembly that out of the total proposed network of minor (18,413 km) and sub-minor canals (48,058 km) in the state, work of 9,434 km minor canals and 37,841 km sub-minor canals is yet to be finished. Interestingly, the sate government has already made a major policy-shift and decided to ‘outsource’ the construction work of sub-minor canals to farmers’ co-operatives.