The Narmada dam is nearing completion, but water from the river is still to reach a sizeable section of farmers in Gujarat. Work on over 27,000 km of the Narmada canal, costing about Rs 12,900 crore, is yet to be completed — mostly minor and sub-minor canals that are crucial in taking water from the Sardar Sarovar dam to the agricultural fields.
The Narmada canal network covers 17 districts of the state and a total of 44,300 km of the network has already been completed as on October 2016.
Of the incomplete work, only 199 km is branch canals and 569 km is distributary canals. The rest is minor and sub-minor canals, according to figures submitted by the state government in the Gujarat Assembly during the Budget session that concluded in March this year.
Work on more than 12,500 km of the canal network in Saurashtra region, which faces face shortage of water every year, is yet to be completed. Of this, 7,900 km is in Surendranagar district, 2,150 km in Morbi, 1,865 km in Botad and 545 km in Bhavnagar.
The government in its defence has stated that it plans to complete the remaining work of minor canals after getting necessary permission for land acquisition, environment clearance and utility crossings (like railway, roads, gas and oil pipelines, telephone and electricity lines) from the various departments. The work on the sub-minor canals will be completed within three months (of beginning of the work) in partnership with farmers, the government added.
According to the 2014-15 estimates, the Narmada canal network will cost Rs 44,426 crore, of which Rs 31,510 crore has already been spent as on November 2016. It will cost an estimated Rs 21,915 crore to complete the rest of the canal network.