A case for pipelining water distribution in the Narmada irrigation system in Gujarat, India

The SSP on the Narmada River, arguably the lifeline of the State of Gujarat, has always been in the limelight for one reason or another. Now, the project has got drawn into a new controversy. Farmers in the SSP command area have stolidly resisted the idea of giving up any land for the construction of the distribution system. This paper outlines an IWMI proposal that argues that pipelining will fail under government construction and management but will work very well if constructed and managed by farmers. It also argues that the critique of pipelining overlooks the vast changes that have swept Gujarat’s irrigation economy since the 1970s when the SSP was planned. Many arguments against pipelining are today open to question. For example, it is argued that pipelining the SSP will mount Gujarat’s farm power bill.