March 14, 2021 2:08:26 am
In the last five years, the central government has provided 64 per cent of the grants sought by the Gujarat government for the Sardar Sarovar Project on the Narmada river.
In a written response to a question posed by Congress MLA Virji Thummar in the Gujarat Assembly, the state government recently informed that between the fiscal 2015-16 and 2019-2020 it sought a total of Rs 9,605 crore in grants from the Centre for the Sardar Sarovar Project, which is yet to be completed. The Centre, it stated, provided only Rs 6,107 crore, that is about 64 per cent of the total grants sought, during the five-year period.
During this period, the lowest percentage of grants (25 per cent) was received by Gujarat during 2015-16 and the highest (90 per cent) in 2017-18. The state received only 50 per cent of the grants that it had demanded in 2019-20, the response stated.
Over the last five years, Rs 14,590 crore, including the state government’s contribution, has been spent on the Sardar Sarovar project, while Rs 138 crore of the grants received from the Centre is lying unspent as of September 30, 2020, the government stated.
The project gets central assistance under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme, under which money is given for constructing minor canals; and Command Area Development and Water Management (CADWM), which is a part of the ‘Har Khet ko Paani’ scheme and gives money for sub-minor canals that provide the last mile connectivity to the farms.
“For both the schemes, the Gujarat government has to submit a proposal for a financial year. This proposal is based on the physical and financial planning for the entire year. Once the planning documents are ready, we approach the central government for assistance. The central government has its own mechanism of evaluation of projects and disbursal of grants to the states. They also have their own monitoring set up where they entrust the work to Central Water Commission or to an independent consultant. These monitoring agencies visit the sites and monitor the work progress,” an official of Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited (SSNNL) told The Sunday Express.
Usually, the Centre releases the first instalment (50 per cent of the grants) at the beginning of the financial year and the remaining half towards the end of the financial year after considering the actual progress made on-site.
“The Centre usually asks for utilisation certificates for the first instalment provided and then releases the second instalment. Sometimes, the project may have progressed as planned but the Centre might have limited resources and so even if Gujarat is eligible, it might not get the full money,” the official added.
In the Budget 2021-22, tabled earlier this month, the state government had proposed to spend Rs 7,370 crore “for completing the necessary works of Sardar Sarovar project”. While works on the main canal is complete, 97 per cent of the branch canal, 95 per cent of minor canal and 91 per cent of the tributaries are yet to completed.
The state government also said it has been providing floodwaters from the Narmada river to Kutch and Saurashtra regions through the canal network. In the last five years, the government provided 10,677 million cubic feet of water to the Saurashtra region during August 2016, August 2019, September 2019, and October 2019. Similarly, during these same months, the Kutch region received 3,125 million cubic feet of water from the river.
The government, in the written response to an unstarred question posed by Congress MLA Ambareesh Der, also stated it could not provide any water to the two regions during 2017 and 2018 as floodwaters were not available from the river.
In 2020, during the months of August, September, and October, 33,335 million cubic feet of floodwaters from Narmada were available but the water was not supplied as both Kutch and Saurashtra had received more than average rainfall that year.
“The main canal of the Narmada network has a carrying capacity of about 25,000-27,000 cubic feet per second (cusecs) and the overflow period is usually limited to 10-15 days every year. The water comes like a flash flood during this period and we try to make maximum use of it. The rest flows downstream from the overflowing dam,” the SSNNL official added.
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