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Thanks to Narmada, there's water in parched Saurashtra

Thanks to Narmada, there's water in parched Saurashtra

Publication: The Indian Express
Date: September 1, 2002
Introduction: The water is being distributed in 145 talukas, 5 municipal corporation areas and 15 districts in Gujarat

In Gujarat that hasn't had a reason to cheer in a long time now, drinking water from Narmada river is providing succour to the parched Saurashtra.

For Lathi taluka in Amreli district and other areas of Saurashtra, 550 km from Sardar Sarovar Narmada Dam at Navagam in Narmada district, the wait has been 40 years long. A spate in the Narmada river due to heavy rainfall in catchment areas in Madhya Pradesh has ensured that the dam, 98-metre-high at present, is overflowing.

The Gujarat government promptly raised the gates of the Irrigation Bypass Tunnel on the left side of dam higher. And now, with water abundant in the main canal, the SSNNL has filled up every major reservoir along the canal route, opened every gate of linking canals and channels and diverted water into local drinking water networks. The results are for all to see: water is being distributed for drinking and irrigation in 145 of 222 talukas, five of the six municipal corporation areas and 15 of the 25 districts in the state.

According to Narmada Project Executive Engineer Ashok Gajjar, between 8,500 and 9,000 cusecs of Narmada water - equivalent to Sabarmati river flowing a little less than halfway mark at Nehru Bridge - is spilling into the Narmada main canal. On Friday, the level of water at the SSP reservoir was 99.42 metres and the Irrigation Bypass Tunnel was flowing full.

SSNNL chairman Bhupendrasinh Chudasma says it's for the first time that Narmada water has flowed 264 km in the main canal upto Kadi-Kalol 'Y' junction, more than half the length of 458 km-long Narmada Main Canal. From the 'Y' junction, the main canal splits and one branch - known as Saurashtra Branch Canal - goes towards Saurashtra while the main canal goes towards North Gujarat and up to Rajasthan.

The water in the canals has brought smiles back on faces of farmers in Central Gujarat and parts of Saurashtra. At Kapadwanj, farmers near the main canal woke up to find water flowing. "We took out motors from the borewells and ponds and immediately installed them near the canal. I think if the water is there for another month or so we can think of a third crop," Punjabhai, a farmer said.

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