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Gujarat's incomplete canals: Narmada dam filled up, yet benefits 'won't reach' farmers

By Our Representative
Even as the Gujarat government is making all out efforts to fill up the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada river up to the full reservoir level (FRL), a senior farmer rights leader has said the huge reservoir, as of today, remains a “mirage for the farmers of Gujarat”.
In a statement, Sagar Rabari of the Khedut Ekta Manch (KEM), has said that though the dam’s reservoir is being filled up, the canal network remains complete. Quoting latest government figures, he says, meanwhile, the command area of the dam has been reduced from 18,45,000 hectares (ha) to 17,92,000 ha.
“According to the website of the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd, which was last updated on Friday, while the main canal, of 458 km long, has been completed, 144 km of ranch canals out of the proposed length of 2731 km remain incomplete.
Then, as against the targeted 4,569 km distributaries, 4,347 km have been constructed, suggesting work for 222 km is still pending. And of the 15,670 km of minor canals, work for 13,889 km has been completed, which suggests work for 1,781 km is pending.
Further, as for the sub-minors, of the targeted 48,320 km, work for 39,448 km has been completed, while 8,872 km is still pending.
Commenting on the Gujarat government claim that 14,88,588 ha of the Narmada command area has become irrigable, Rabari says, “According to the last annual report, the actual irrigated area from Narmada water was 6,73,000 ha out of 18,45,000 ha.”
Blaming the state government of pushing Madhya Pradesh farmers on the brink of submergence by raising the water level in the dam, he adds, this is being done despite the fact that canal network is incomplete and Gujarat farmers are unlikely to get its benefit.

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