Chief Minister Narendra Modi on Monday offered to install plaques of Nehru-Gandhi family and not to take any credit himself for Narmada project but urged the Centre to allow Gujarat government to install gates on the dam.
“I had recently said that I have been pleading with the Delhi (Central) government to allow us install gates on Narmada dam. I had said publicly that I shall mount plaques of Gujarat Congress leaders, not that of the BJP-led government of Gujarat. …Exhibit photos of (Jawaharlal Nehru, Indiraji, Rajivbhai (Gandhi), Soniaben, (her) son or grandson or of whomsoever you want (at the dam site). We have no objection. But please, allow us to install gates,” the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate said as a the huge gathering of farmers applauded.
Modi was addressing the farmers after unveiling plaque for ground-breaking ceremony of the Rs10,800 crore project called Saurashtra Narmada Avtaran Irrigation (SUANI) Yojan of Gujarat government. The project envisages to fill up 115 dams of Saurashtra by pumping one million acre feet (MAF) of Narmada water which flows into the sea when the dam overflows.
“I have been telling this from the day one and I am repeating it one more time today. …Narmada project 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 of them because I believe there should be no politics at least over Narmada (project),” Modi added.
Incidentally, the CM had expressed readiness to credit Congress leaders while addressing a farmers gathering while inaugurating an agricultural exhibition at Kagvad in Rajkot district last month.
He accused that after late prime minister Nehru laid the foundation stone of the dam, successive Central governments had tried to thwart the project by raising issues of environment and going to courts. “The government of Pandit (Jawaharlal Nehru) is responsible for derailing the project. This is the reason, even forty years later we have to run from pillar to post to install gates,” Modi alleged.
The Gujarat CM said that due to lack the floodgates, the dam built over river Narmada could store only 40 per cent of water of its total capacity and that the residual amount was going waste as it flowed into the sea every year. “Even with that 40 per cent water, Kutch which was a district of desert earlier, has become green. If we get 100 per cent water, entire Gujarat will be lush green,” said Modi.
Modi recounted his often-alluded-to meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh where the PM had agreed that Gujarat’s demand to install gates was right. But when he had to again seek the Cenrte’s not for gates, the PM expressed surprise that the work had not been completed.
The CM said that installing gates would take three years. “We shall not close gates, but allow us to install,” he repeated.
Saurashtra and Kutch region covering 11 districts does not have a single perennial river and water for drinking and irrigation is a persistent problem. The government targets to irrigate 10.22 lakh acres of land in Saurashtra. Modi had announced this project in the run up to the 2012 Assembly elections.