PM to in­au­gu­rate ‘Gu­jarat’s life­line’

Ahead of assem­bly elec­tions in the state, BJP stands to reap ben­e­fits of the dam around which it has wo­ven its poll cam­paign

Hindustan Times (Jalandhar) - - NATION - Hi­ral Dave hi­ral.dave@htlive.com

As our PM is vis­it­ing Gu­jarat, I want to ask him why 43,000 km of the canal net­work is still in­com­plete. I wish he ex­plains this de­lay as BJP has been in power here for 22 years and he was CM from 2001 to 2014. SHAKTISINH GOHIL, Congress leader

AHMEDABAD: On his 67th birth­day on Sun­day, Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi will ded­i­cate the Sar­dar Sarovar dam built on the Nar­mada 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 he hosted Ja­panese Prime Min­is­ter Shinzo Abe in Ahmedabad to launch the bul­let train project.

This comes ex­actly three months af­ter the Nar­mada Con­trol Author­ity al­lowed clo­sure 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 Mad­hya Pradesh — stand to gain from the multi-pur­pose dam, 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 Suren­drana­gar to mark the com­ple­tion of the dam.

The BJP, which has wo­ven its assem­bly elec­tion cam­paign around this ‘life­line of Gu­jarat’, started cel­e­brat­ing the suc­cess of the project in 2014 when the NDA 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. I want to ask Rahul Gandhi as to why a project started by his great-grand­fa­ther was not com­pleted dur­ing the ten­ure of his fa­ther?” said BJP na­tional chief Amit Shah at a town hall event in 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 main canal and six branch canals have been com­pleted, work on mi­nor, sub-mi­nor canals and dis­tribu­taries is still on.

“As our Prime Min­is­ter is vis­it­ing Gu­jarat, I want to ask him why 43,000km of the canal net­work is still in­com­plete. I wish he ex­plains this de­lay as the BJP has 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 mil­lion cu­bic feet (MAF) of water has been made to pro­vide drink­ing water to Gu­jarat’s 131 ur­ban cen­tres 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 Nar­mada Bachao An­dolan (NBA) led by so­cial ac­tivist Medha Patkar over the re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion of the af­fected fam­i­lies in Mad­hya Pradesh from the mid 1980s on­wards.

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