SAUNI Yojana: Transforming Irrigation in Drought-Prone Saurashtra

SAUNI Yojana: Transforming Irrigation in Drought-Prone Saurashtra
SAUNI Yojana: Transforming Irrigation in Drought-Prone Saurashtra

The SAUNI (Saurashtra Narmada Avtaran Irrigation) Yojana, conceived in March 2014 and steered by the Government of Gujarat under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has emerged as a game-changer for the drought-prone region of Saurashtra. The primary objective of this ambitious scheme is to revolutionize irrigation practices by harnessing the untapped potential of excess floodwaters from the Narmada river and utilizing them to replenish 115 major dams in the parched landscape.

The SAUNI project operates as a unique linking initiative that aims to supply much-needed water to regions where irrigation dams are already integrated into canal networks. This ingenious approach, utilizing pipelines instead of traditional open canals, has overcome numerous challenges, including land acquisition disputes and implementation hurdles. As a result, the project has gained traction, effectively addressing the pressing water scarcity concerns prevalent in Saurashtra.

Nestled along the Arabian Sea coast in Gujarat, Saurashtra spans over a third of the state, encompassing 11 districts, notably Rajkot District. Despite its picturesque charm, the region grapples with several geographical challenges, including low groundwater levels and limited reservoir storage capacity. Moreover, irregular and insufficient rainfall exacerbates the water scarcity situation, making it imperative to seek innovative solutions. The SAUNI Yojana emerged as the beacon of hope to tackle these daunting challenges.

The scheme comprises multiple links that serve as lifelines for Saurashtra’s irrigation needs:

  1. Package 8 – Machhu-II Dam to Sani Dam link: Carrying Capacity – 1200 cusecs; Benefit Area – 2,02,100 acres.
  2. Package 9 – Limbdi Bhogavo-II Dam to Raidi Dam link: Carrying Capacity – 1050 cusecs; Benefit Area – 2,74,700 acres.
  3. Package 10 – Dholidhaja Dam to Venu-I Dam link: Carrying Capacity – 1200 cusecs; Benefit Area – 1,98,067 acres.
  4. Package 11 – Limbdi Bhogavo-II Dam to Hiran-II Irrigation Scheme link: Carrying Capacity – 1200 cusecs; Benefit Area – 3,47,722 acres.

Collectively, these links form an approximately 1300-km pipeline network, ensuring the efficient distribution of water to farms and vastly improving irrigation opportunities in the region.

The SAUNI Yojana has already made remarkable progress, storing 1 million acre-feet of water in 115 reservoirs across 11 districts. With 1203 kms of pipelines laid in the last 7 years, the project has delivered 71,206 million cubic feet of water, benefiting 95 reservoirs, 146 ponds, and 927 check dams, enhancing irrigation on 6.50 lakh acres and supplying potable water to 80 lakh people.

Upon completion, the SAUNI Yojana is set to benefit over 970 villages, covering 8,24,872 acres with enhanced irrigation facilities, while providing drinking water to 82 lakh people. With 95% of the project completed at an expenditure of rupees 18,563 crore, the remaining work is progressing rapidly, bringing the vision of a water-sufficient and prosperous Saurashtra closer to reality.