Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday inaugurated the first phase of the ambitious Rs 12,000 crore SAUNI (Saurashtra Narmada Avtaran Irrigation Yojna) project that aims to satiate the water and irrigation needs of the perennially parched regions of Saurashtra in Gujarat.
Modi, who landed at the Jamnagar airport in the morning, had to drive down to Sanosara to reach the Aji dam site to inaugurate the first link of the project owing to inclement weather. The inauguration got delayed a little.
The SAUNI project, which in Gujarati means something for everyone, aims at diverting the excess floodwater from Sardar Sarovar Dam to fill up 115 dams of the water-scarce Saurashtra region through a network of canals and pipelines. The first phase would help irrigate 4.13 lakh hectares of land.
The Prime Minister pressed a button at the Aji-3 dam to open Gate two, Three and Four, to start release of the water that would fill up Aji-4 dam. Simultaneously, water would also be pumped into Uund-4 reservoir. Modi had launched the scheme when he was Gujarat Chief Minister in September 2012, and on Tuesday opened the first phase.
Officials call the SAUNI project an engineering marvel since it involves lifting huge amounts of water through hundreds of kilometres to fill the dams. “SAUNI project is an engineering marvel that will quench thirst of 11 drought-prone district of Saurashtra and bring fresh life to the region,” Chief Minister Vijay Rupani tweeted earlier.