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'Smaller Kalpasar unviable; proposed Bharbhut weir will carry five per cent of Narmada water into reservoir'

By Rajiv Shah
Top technocrat Dr Anil Kane, who gave the ambitious project for damming the Gulf of Khambhat the now popular name of Kalpasar more than two decades ago by conceptualising it, has heavily come down on the Gujarat government for making the entire project “unviable and unworkable.” Talking with www.counterview.net, Dr Kane said, a major factor that will make the project redundant is that, under the new project design, the Narmada river has been removed from the Kalpasar reservoir. “From where will you get water if Narmada river is not made part of Kalpasar?”, he wondered.
Particularly raising objection to the Rs 4,000 crore Bharbhut weir, to be built on the mouth of river Narmada, Dr Kane, former vice-chancellor of MSU, Vadodara, and currently president-emeritus of the World Wind Energy Association, Bonn, “Flood waters from Narmada were to find themselves in the Kalpasar dam, thus helping the reservoir to become a sweet water lake over the years. However, the proposed canal which will now carry Narmada river waters from Bharbhut to the newly designed reservoir will be just five per cent efficient.”
Narmada river figues suggest that the river gets floods of anywhere between three lakh cusecs to 30 lakh cusecs. As against this, the proposed canal's capacity is only slightly more than the Narmada canal which starts at the Narmada dam at Kevadia colony. While the Narmada canal is designed with a capacity of 40,000 cusecs, the canal connecting Bharbhut and the Kalpasar reservoir would have a capacity which is just 10.000 cusecs higher – just about 50,000 cusecs. Obviously, the canal to be dug from Bharbhut to inside of the newly designed dam, which will be upstream or Narmada river, will just not be able to carry three lakh to 30 lakh cusecs of flood waters which go to the sea every year.
Dr Kane, who had the full backing of top industrial houses, including Ratan Tata, Shashi Ruia, Dhirubhai Ambani, apart from many others, whom he personally met and convinced about the viability of the Kalpasar project in its earlier form in 1990s, claimed the new design will have “no takers.” He said, “They were all ready to put in money. But, who will be interested in a smaller reservoir, with no possibility of power generation through sea waves, something that was proved in the voluminous feasibility study, prepared by the international consultants, Haskoning Consulting Engineers and Architects, the Netherlands.”
“Why has wave power, through which the proposal was to produce 6,000 MW of power, been put off is difficult to understand”, he said, wondering, “Does the Gujarat government believe the international consultants were wrong? The business houses were interested in the project only because of power. No government money would have been necessary in those scheme of things. Give me Kalpasar and I can show you how to come with the project with no government cost.”
Dr Kane – who regrets that the government has removed him from the core group on Kalpasar without even informing him – said, “Under the new design, as no power will be produced, huge funds would be required to pump out whatever sweet water that gathers in the smaller Kalpasar. The government would require at least 600 MW of power for this. Has the government considered as to from where will the money come to run this power to take costly waters to different parts of Saurashtra?”, he asked, adding, “In the scheme of things we had worked out, Kalpasar would gain Rs 6,400 crore per year by producing 1,700 units of electricity every year from the power produced from wave.”
Dr Kane's protest follows the decision of the Gujarat government to begin the Bharbhut weir project, which has already come under fire of the NGOs, who said no coastal regulatory zone clearance has yet been taken for it. “How can you start the weir without that?”, an environmental NGO, Paryavaran Mitra has said. Dr Kane has decided to speak up four years after he shot a letter to Chief Minister Narendra Modi and chief secretary D Rajagopalan, protesting against state's move to turn Kalpsar to a "truncated project".
"By keeping out Narmada from Kalpsar in the fresh design, you will be depriving 80 per cent of sweet water which should be available for the water reservoir," Dr Kane is learnt to have told the CM, adding, "Ports within Kalpsar will be more viable than outside, as there will be no low tide once the dam is built. Actually, Dholera without Kalpsar is not viable as it does not have enough draft during low tide. But, with Kalpsar it will become viable as waters will stabilise. The draft will rise by minimum by 5.5 metres."
Rejecting the argument that traffic movement between south Gujarat and Saurashtra will face hurdles if there is a collapsible bridge on Kalpsar dam, Kane says, "Engineering options are available. Two lock gates have been proposed to allow ships to move in, as in many parts of the world. One of the two will have to remain closed, and traffic can move on it smoothly. Alternatively, it is possible to have a kilometer-long underwater tunnel, about 25 metres deep, to allow non-stop traffic movement."

Comments

Dr. Anil Kane said…
I had personal discussions with highest levels with Reliance, Essar, Tatas and L&T and I convinced them about the techno-economic viability of the project considering these project to consists –
(a) fresh water reservoir having full Narmada water, including the flood water, (b) generation of tidal power of about 5800 MW (c) development of all the internal harbors utilizing a naval lock (d) reclamation and development of around 4 lac hectares of land (e) a short road-cum-rail connection between Saurashtra and mainland.
All these 5 projects have been found to be extremely economically attractive giving unthinkable internal rates of return.
Out of these 2 major money churners i.e. the tidal power generation and the harbors are removed out of the entire project it would not become economically viable and no private party would ever come to participate. This is what exactly has happened.
After the main report was submitted by the consultants, the report was circulated to several people for comments. Based on the comments received, following 6 detailed studies were conducted viz.
1. Economic & Financial Evaluation
2. Todal Power Generation
3. Review, Reappraisal & Integration of Benefits from fresh water of Kalpasar Reservoir with those of other Projects in Gujarat
4. Hydraulic & Morphological Impact
5. Drainage Aggravation & Salt Balance Modeling in Fresh Water Reservoir
6. Water Quality Impact

All these studies results have been conclusively proved that the project is highly techno-economically viable and is in the ultimate interest of Gujarat. It is very obvious that if we truncate the entire project complex, particularly, remove tidal power and harbor, the project will straight away become economically unviable and neither any private party will participate nor any financial institution will support. If the government wants to stick to their present policy it will be most unfortunate for Gujarat and the country.
One must understand that getting 5800 MW of power without burning any fossil fuel and consequently creating environmental hazards the nature has given this fabulous opportune ity and it must be grabbed. Just because no one has done such a large project before cannot be the criterion of not embarking upon it. One needs vision and calculated risk taking ability which the top industrialists of the country have shown.
I do not understand the hesitation from government point of view, because if ultimately the industrial giants do not find it viable, the project will not come up. Government has to lose nothing because I am not proposing that government should invest from the public exchequer.
Some of the government officials have created a bogie that the naval locks will create traffic jams and the road link will become unviable. This is a very strange statement and no such thing would happen. There are end number of engineering solutions to this situation. The most perfect solution could be a underwater tunnel of about 1 to 1.5 km long under the naval lock. These sort of un der water tunnels have been built at various places, including a 36 km long underwater tunnel between England and France below English Channel. Road and railways are already under successful operation. Between 2 islands in Japan, 95 km underwater tunnel successfully operated. So this very short tunnel under the naval lock would be a very easy thing to do. There are other solutions apart from the tunnel also.
Given opportunity, I am prepared to convince any businessman in this matter.

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