Friday, February 23, 2018

Engineering Wonder of Gujarat

Engineering Wonder of Gujarat 

During my childhood and in teen age, I had seen hundreds of women walking for 2-3 kilometre carrying drinking water heavy pots over their heads in many villages of Gujarat. I had witnessed consecutive three drought years (1985-87), witnessed water transport by tankers and train, and functioned as a part of Scarcity Management Team in a tribal district. I being a Collector of the largest district of the State (25% area), Kutch, witnessed water scarcity and tiredness of traveling many kilometres without greens around. Had tasted tea with villagers made of Heavy TDS water. With hardly 10% of irrigated land, except South Gujarat and few patches of Junagadh, the State was like a barren land in Summer. 

When I went to Punjab first time on election duty in 2004, looking at its green fields, canals and perennial rivers, I fell in love with the State. It was a complete contrast colour of the life. People may be bothered about alcohol or chicken but not bothered about water scarcity. 

On continuous insistence of the Chief Secretary in COS meeting to visit Narnada Canal and Water Works, I took a chance to travel along the coast of Narmada Canal from Gandhinagar to Dholi Dhaja Dam in Surendranagar last week. It was a joyous travel as if I was traveling in Punjab. As the inflow of water in canal is less this year due to low rainfall in the catchment area of MP and Maharastra, the Canal was not flowing at its optimal capacity, but the oil engines lifting water from both sides of canal have kept the farms green to make the surroundings attractive. 

The Narmada Main Canal is 458 km long passing through 9 districts of the State has been divided into two at Y Junction near Kadi, where the main canal continues towards north Gujarat and Rajashthan, but a branch canal for Saurastra begins, that is further divided into branches, minors and sub minors. Both the MNC and Branch Canals have large number of hydronic structures: canal falls, siphon, river escapes, regulators etc. 

The most impressive engineering wonder is the construction of Saurastra Branch Canal (SBC) (424.8 cumecs) of 104 km. Saurastra is like an inverted saucer with highest elevation near Chotila. The alignment of the SBC crosses peculiar topography with a falling ground from its 0 to 59 km by about 52 metre and than after rise of ground by about 66 metre. Without crossing this deep, it is impossible to bring water of Narmada in Saurastra and Kutch.

Due to topography, it was impossible to transport water through gravity due to natural depression. But the engineers of Gujarat made it possible by constructing world’s largest lifting facility (18872 MLD), lifted the whole SBC of 424.8 cumecs capacity up to a height of 66 metre through a pumping station solution. 

The first pumping station at Dhanki lifted it up to 10.81 metre (230 cumecs), second lift of 15.67 metre (120 cumecs) at Lakhtar, third lift of 15.67 metre at Bala (120 cumecs), fourth lift of 12.05 metre at Rajpur (80 cumecs) and the fifth lift of 17.08 metre (80 cumecs) at Dudhrej. With total 33 pumps in all, the water is lifted up from down canal and poured into the upper canal. This is done 5 times. As if the huge Canal is climbing up the ladder. They are expanding the pumping stations in phases to increase their lifting capacity to its ultimate planned capacity. 

The three water fall points are beautiful attracting tourists, will generate hydro electricity 45 MW (15 MW each) within a year. 

All the sites are pictorial and are attracting people and birds. You can see many King Fishers fishing and storing fishes in their beautiful nests made like a store house, presenting their engineering skill of making the nests. If humans can present their engineering skills, why the Kingfishers live behind? 

It is not far away, hardly a 250 kms journey to make a trip along with the canal with a visit of Y Junction, Dhanki, Dholi Dhaja and Return after the hospitality lunch offered by the SSNNL. 

Do visit. River Narmada has changed the fate of Gujarat. नमामि देवी नर्मदे।  

23 February 2018


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