An ambitious Rs. 12,000 crore project to bring the water of the Narmada River to Gujarat’s parched Saurashtra region is helping reunite families, but experts caution that such lift-irrigation schemes had failed the world over.

Thousands of men from the region, who had to leave their homes in search of livelihood due to crop failures, are returning home, a visit to the area revealed.

Mukesh Patel, 44, a resident of Thariyali village in Rajkot district, said he had returned to his village after 18 years as there was finally ample water to irrigate his land due to the SAUNI project. “The government has now made arrangements to provide water to us for irrigation of crops,” Patel said.

SAUNI, abbreviated in Gujarati from Saurashtra Narmada Avtaran Irrigation Yojna, plans to fill up 115 dams of the region with excess run-off water of the Sardar Sarovar Dam across the Narmada River. The dams will be fed through a network of pipelines and water will be supplied for drinking and irrigation. Read more