Chief Minister Narendra Modi Monday offered to put up plaques of the Nehru-Gandhi family and not take credit for the Narmada project but urged the Centre to allow the Gujarat government to install gates at the dam. “I have been pleading with the Delhi (Central) government to allow us to install gates at the dam. I had said publicly that I shall put up plaques of Gujarat Congress leaders, not of the BJP government in Gujarat, exhibit photos of (Jawaharlal Nehru, Indiraji, Rajivbhai, Soniaben, (her) son or grandson or whoever you want (at the dam site). But please allow us to install gates,” he said as a huge gathering of farmers applauded.
Modi was addressing farmers at the ground-breaking of the Rs 10,800-crore Saurashtra Narmada Avataran Irrigation Yojana of the Gujarat government to fill 115 dams in Saurashtra by pumping 1 million acre feet of Narmada water that otherwise flows into the sea when the dam overflows. “Narmada is not a project of a single government, party or chief minister. All governments of Gujarat and chief ministers have contributed. I give credit to all because I believe there should be no politics at least over Narmada (project),” he said.
Modi claimed after former PM the late Nehru laid the foundation stone, successive Central governments tried to thwart the project by raising issues of environment and going to courts. The CM said in the absence of floodgates, the dam could store only 40 per cent of its capacity and the remaining water flowed into the sea every year.
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“Even with that 40 per cent, Kutch, which was a desert earlier, has become green. If we get 100 per cent water, entire Gujarat will be lush green,” said Modi. He said installing gates would take three years. Saurashtra and Kutch do not have a single perennial river and water for drinking and irrigation is a persistent problem.