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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate phase-I of the Link-II pipeline canal of the ambitious Saurashtra Narmada Avtaran Irrigation (SAUNI) Yojna in Botad district of Gujarat on Monday. This will be the second milestone in the Rs 12,000 crore project to pump Narmada water in 115 dams of arid Saurashtra region after the PM dedicated to public phase-I of the Link-I canal in August last year.
Modi will land in Botad at around 4 pm on Monday and formally release Narmada water in Krushnasagar dam near Botad by pressing a switch. Later, he will address a public meeting near Pathan ginning factory on Hadadad road on the outskirts of Botad town.
While the Link-I canal will take water to 30 dams in Jamnagar and Devbhoomi Dwarka districts, the Link-II canal is designed to pump Narmada water in 17 dams spread across Botad, Bhavnagar and Amreli districts. The 253-kilometre long pipeline of Link-II originates from Limdi Bhogavo-II dam near Limdi and is planned to terminate at Raidy dam in Amreli district. The phase-I of this pipeline covers a distance of 51 kilometre and brings water from Limdi Bhogavo-II to Bhimdad dam in Gadhda taluka of Botad district. A state government release said that the phase-I of the Link-II had been completed at the cost of Rs 1,313 crore. The phase-I will fill up Bhimdad dam which has total storage capacity of 239 million cubic feet (MCFT) and Krushnasagar dam which was a source of drinking water for Botad town till a few years ago.
SAUNI Yojna is a project to divert one million acre feet (MAFT) of floodwater of Narmada to Saurashtra region and fill up 115 reservoirs of Saurashtra through a 1126-kilometre-long network of giant pipelines. The project envisages to channel the floodwater, which otherwise overflows the Narmada dam during monsoon and drains into the sea, to Saurashtra through Narmada main canal and Saurashra branch canal (CBC) of the Narmada dam project. The SBC lands in Dholidhaja dam in Surendranagar. Botad branch canal (BBC) originates from the Dholidhaja dam and fills up Limdi Bhogavo-II dam along the way. The pipeline network has been divided into four links. Each link has been sub-divided into three phases for execution of work. The entire SAUNI project targets to provide irrigation water for
10.22 lakh acres of land in Saurashtra region.
After the work of laying pipeline and constructing pumping stations got over, engineers started pumping water in Krushnasagar dam and Bhimdad dam from Saturday. The release stated that the phase-I of the Link-II will make
available irrigation water for around 12,000 acres of land in Botad district.
While residents of Bhimdad have been gathering near the escape gate in SAUNI pipeline for Bhimdad dam for the last two days, officers of Bhavnagar irrigation circle told The Indian Express that there is no plan to fill up
the dam as of now. “The water is being released just for the purpose of inauguration,” said a top irrigation officer.
While he was chief minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi had announced the SAUNI project in Rajkot in 2012. He had laid the foundation stone of the project, again in Rajkot, in 2014. He had inaugurated the first phase of Link-I at Sanosara village in Dhrol taluka of Jamnagar in August last year by releasing water from Aji-III dam for downstream dams. Aji-III, in turn, had been filled up by pumping Narmada water from Machhu-II dam near Morbi.