In its Interim Budget for the current financial year, the BJP government on Tuesday announced a slew of schemes and sops for tribal communities especially to improve irrigation facilities in the southern belt of Gujarat.
Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel in his budget speech announced to lay a new water pipeline project, costing Rs 185 crore, which will help in irrigating 4,500 acres in Dahod district that were not covered under the Kadana-Dahod pipeline.
The government also said that Tapi-Karjan Link Lift Irrigation pipeline will be laid for Songadh taluka of Tapi district, Umarpada taluka of Surat district and Dediyapada taluka of Narmada district at an estimated cost of Rs 715 crore. The pipeline, the government claimed, will provide irrigation facilities to 73 villages covering 21,760 hectare area, besides filling the existing 100 check dams.
For Panchmahal district, the government announced to build Panam high level canal at an estimated cost of Rs 215 crore and another irrigation project for the eastern belt of the district at the cost of Rs 250 crore.
Also, the government has taken up Ukai reservoir-based irrigation scheme at an estimated expenditure of Rs 912 crore to provide water for irrigation to 69,000 acre area of Uchchhal, Nizar and Songadh taluka in Tapi district.
The government’s thrust on new irrigation projects in tribal areas of the state comes amidst growing protest in south and central districts over lack of water for irrigation from Narmada canal system. Narmada and Tapi districts have been witnessing frequent tribal protests over this.
For the youths from the SC, ST and OBC categories, the government also announced to launch eight new Samras hostels in major cities of the state. Already, 12 Samras hostels have been built in the state at an expense of Rs 638 crore with an annual expense of Rs 35 crore. As per the government records, these hostels give accommodation to 10,500 students.
The government also announced to increase the funds to eight corporations under Social Justice and Empowerment Department and Tribal Development Corporation by Rs 50 crore — from Rs 100 crore to Rs 150 crore. The government said that the additional funds would help the corporation to provide more loans to the beneficiaries. The eight corporations are Gujarat Thakor and Koli Development Corporation, Gujarat Backward Classes Development Corporation, Gujarat Scheduled Caste Development Corporation, Gujarat Safai Kamdar Development Corporation, Gujarat Gopalak Development Corporation, Gujarat Nomadic and De-notified Tribes Development Corporation, Gujarat Minority Finance and Development Corporation and Dr Ambedkar Antyodayay Development Corporation and Gujarat Tribal Development Corporation.
Congress MLA Shailesh Parmar said that additional Rs 50 crore was not enough. “There are eight major boards and corporations which look after the welfare of SCs, STs and OBCs. The BJP government has allotted just Rs 50 crore more, which is not enough. The allocation for Narmada project is also not sufficient,” he said.