PM to inaugurate ‘ Gujarat’s lifeline’
GATES OPEN Ahead of assembly elections in the state, BJP stands to reap benefits of the dam around which it has woven its poll campaign
AHMEDABAD: Onhis67thbirthday on Sunday, Prime Minister NarendraModiwilldedicatetheSardarSarovardambuiltontheNarmada to the nation — 56 years after its foundation was laid by India’s first premier Jawaharlal Nehru.
It will be Modi’s second visit to Gujarat in less than a week after hehostedJapanesePrimeMinisterShinzo AbeinAhmedabadto launch the bullet train project.
This comes exactly three months after the Narmada Control Authority allowedclosure of the dam’s sluice gates so that the water rises to its full height of 138.68 metres from the earlier 121.92 metres.
The storage capacity also rose to 4.73 million cubic metres (MCM) from the previous 1.27 MCM.
While four states — Gujarat, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and MadhyaPradesh— standtogain fromthemulti-purposedam,the BJP is all geared up to reap its benefits in poll-bound Gujarat.
Earlier this month, Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani flagged off a two-week long Narmada Mahotsav Yatra in Surendranagartomarkthecompletion of the dam.
The BJP, which has woven its assembly election campaign around this ‘lifeline of Gujarat’, started celebratingthe success of theprojectin2014whentheNDA came to power at the Centre.
“Within 10 days of assuming office as Prime Minister, Narendrabhai gave the nod to install gates on the Narmada dam. It became possible because of his strong will and hard work of years.IwanttoaskRahulGandhi as to why a project started by his great-grandfather was not completed during the tenure of his father?” said BJP national chief AmitShahatatownhalleventin Ahmedabad on September 10.
The Congress, on the other hand, has been raising the issue of incomplete canal network. Though the over 500-km long maincanalandsixbranchcanals have been completed, work on minor,sub-minorcanalsanddistributaries is still on.
“AsourPrimeMinisterisvisiting Gujarat, I want to ask him why 43,000km of the canal networkisstillincomplete.Iwishhe explainsthisdelayastheBJPhas been in power here for 22 years and he was the chief minister from 2001 to 2014,” Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil said.
According to Sardar Sarovar Project officials, the project will irrigate 2,46,000 hectares of land in the strategically important desert districts of Barmer and Jalore in Rajasthan and 37,500 hectares in the tribal hilly tract of Maharashtra.
A special allocation of 0.86 millioncubicfeet(MAF)ofwaterhas been made to provide drinking watertoGujarat’s131urbancentres and 9,633 villages — which is 53% of the total 18,144 villages in the state.
The foundation of the interstate project was laid in 1961. But its further construction was delayed mainly because of the NarmadaBachaoAndolan(NBA) led by social activist Medha Patkar over the rehabilitation of the affected families in Madhya Pradeshfromthemid1980sonwards.