Prime Minister Narendra Modi today inaugurated the first phase of SAUNI (Saurashtra Narmada Avataran for Irrigation) project which aims to take water to Saurashtra region, help in irrigation anddrinking water. This is a multipurpose project considered to be an ambitious one to fill up nearly 115 dams of water scarce Saurashtra region through network of canals and pipelines. The government has set a target to complete the four phase project by 2019.
Advantages of SAUNI Project
Nearly ten dams of three districts would be filled up with water from Narmadaunder the project. The excess water which otherwise would have gone to the sea is been diverted.
Such a project is happening for the first time in a large scale. This is described as an Engineering marvel because water will flow through 100s of kms through pipes to fill dams.
The water will flow through pipelines which replaces open channel flow of water. This is a new concept which is not adopted often. The dam water is usually taken to the farmers fields through open channel flow. Through dams water is taken from water surplus to the water deficit region.
Flowing water through pipes has many advantages. There is no seepage into the ground, no evaporation of water as it happen through open channel, pipes can traverse adverse gradient and there are no issues of land acquisition.
The area in Saurashtra had been experiencing migration over the years because of lack of water availability and cultivation of only one crop that too was uncertain, which was dependent on rain. Now because of the assured water supply it is possible to avail two crops a year. People who had migrated are returning back.
Feasibility of using flood water for irrigation and drinking water
Flood water is usually considered as wastage because there is a feeling that excess water should be allowed to flow into the sea without creating much disturbance in its path.
If we construct a dam and impound the flood water into the reservoir, then the reservoir becomes a storehouse of energy and the water stored can be used for irrigation and many other purposes. We get rid of flood problems.
The water will flow to water scarce regions which makes agriculture possible. Earlier people thought agriculture won’t be possible in Kutch region. The water scarcity is an impediment in the economic development of a particular region. If water is available it leads to economic emancipation of the area.
Other areas of SAUNI Project
In case of seepage within the pipe which is located underground, there are methods to check like manholes and choking.
This project will set an example of great efficiency because there are no losses of water. All the water sent will reach the farmers field.
India has limited monsoon period and the excess rainfall has to be stored in dams and use it in the remaining months. With the increase in demand for water, only small dams are not enough. A combination of suitable structures is required in the national perspective.
Pricing water or treating it as an economic good is a good concept. It will enforce efficiency into the water use.
Rain water harvesting has been popularized by many states; they are helping in recharging the ground water. Lot of awareness in public domain is required.
The investment on fertilizers and seeds would give commensurate benefits only with the availability of water.
The infrastructure created for water distribution and water use has to be managed necessarily through theparticipatory approach. Participatory irrigation management has been a component in command area development and water management programme which is being implemented by Ministry of Water Resources, with the help of Central Water Commission.
Once this project shows the way, this will be followed by other regions. This is a very ambitious project. Everyone will be looking at its implementation and how it will be replicated elsewhere in the country.