Parts of the Great Indian Desert and the barren Rann of Kutch could be a thriving economy with “no water problems” if Union Minister Nitin Gadkari’s dream of building a 850-km canal from Gujarat to Rajasthan becomes a reality.
“I have a dream project to make a 850-km long canal from Kandla at the border of Gujarat/Rajasthan to Jaisalmer and Jalore. This will change the economy of Rajasthan and Gujarat,” the Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister told PTI.
The project, he says, is in a preliminary stage and will use Arabian sea water from Gujarat to Rajasthan to transform the barren Rann of Kutch and Thar Desert regions into thriving economy.
The project will not only solve the water crisis in Rajasthan but will also result in clean drinking water, salt, gas to run urea plants, reduce power tariff and promote coastal movement of coal, lime and other products besides employing at least 1,000 youth, he said.
“We will make water ports in that canal. It is in a preliminary stage. The project will have 1,000 MW electricity generating capacity from sea water. Its byproduct will be salt. From salt we will manufacture gas to run CNG vehicles, drinking water will be there. We will leave this water in canal,” the Minister said. He said all adjoining rivers will be linked to the canal and during floods the river water will be released in the canal.
While one side of the canal will have highways, the other will see coming up of railways, he said adding that land will be no problem for the project as it is all desert and a government company has already surveyed it. Funding too will not be a problem as WAPCOS (Water and Power Consultancy Services), a Government of India undertaking, was ready to invest in the project.
On funding requirements, he said it is yet to be assessed though the preliminary assessment estimated roughly Rs 5,000 crore expenditure.
The Minister was hopeful that the gas obtained from salt manufacturing will be used to set up a urea plant there that in turn will reduce the urea prices by at least 30 per cent there.
Elaborating about the project, the Minister said the idea was to select about 1,000 unemployed youth who in turn would be provided with Rs 2 crore loan each to buy three trucks, two JCBs and one pokland.
He said the idea was to provide 1 km earth work to each of the selected unemployed youth and they can recover the machinery cost from the project.
Also, once the project is operational, lime from Rajasthan can be sent to Odisha through waterways as at present lime was being imported in the state from Dubai, Gadkari said. Explaining further, the Minister said Talcher, which has 60 million coal production has planned to ramp it up to 300 million and the entire coal can be transported for Maharashtra and Gujarat power plants through Mahanadi Brahmani waterways which is under construction.
While returning, the ships carrying coal to Kandla could take lime from Rajasthan and this way it could easily be transported.
“Transportation of coal through waterways alone could benefit the country by Rs 16,000 crore while coal transportation cost would be cheaper by Rs 1,200 per tonne.
Power cost in turn will reduce by 75 paise to Rupee one per unit,” the Minister said.
He said regions like Jaisalmer and Jalore where water has to be transported even during rainy season through railways will have sufficient water.
Gadkari exuded confidence that the project will make Rajasthan accessible by water transport.