Buoyed by additional supply of Narmada water, Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC) has set up hoarding boards thanking Chief Minister Anandiben Patel and water supply minister Vijay Rupani for ensuring enough water for the city when local resources have gone dry. But Opposition Congress termed it a publicity drive of the ruling BJP when the civic body goes to poll later this year and bypolls in two wards are already going on. The civic body has set up around 35 hoarding boards at major traffic junctions and main roads of the city, like Trikon Baug, Mahila College Chowk, on Kalavad Road and Kasturba Road. The elected wing of the civic body took the decision to put up the billboards after city the started getting additional 30 million litres of water per day (MLD) from Narmada pipelines from this week.
“The office-bearers of RMC took the decision to thank the CM and Water Supply Minister for making it possible to supply drinking water for 20 minutes everyday to 15 lakh residents of the city even at the time when local resources have gone dry. The CM and the minister have shown concern for the 15 lakh population of the city and therefore we feel oblige to thank the CM and the Minister as well as to congratulate them,” chairman of standing committee, Niti Bhardwaj told The Indian Express on Friday.
Bhardwaj further said that the aim of the hoarding was to make public aware that the government has done so much for them. “Had the city not got this additional water, residents might have been forced to migrate as there is no water in local dams. We shall follow these hoarding boards with another round asking people to save water,” said the chairman.
The hoarding boards have pictures of the CM, Rupani, mayor Rakshaben Boliya, deputy mayor, the standing committee chairman and leader whip of the ruling party in RMC. The hoarding reads that even when Aji dam and Nyari dam, the two local sources of drinking water for the city, have run dry, the city gets daily water supply. Then it goes on to congratulate the CM and Rupani, who is MLA from the city.
Early this month, RMC laid four-kilometre-long pipeline from Khambhala to Ishwariya for getting additional 30 MLD Narmada water at the cost of Rs 90 lakh and Gujarat Water Supply and Sewerage Board (GWSSB) has demanded a deposit of Rs 9 crore from RMC for the additional allocation. As part of the network, water is drawn form Saurashtra Branch canal of Narmada near Dhanki village in Surendranagar. From there, it is pumped to Rajkot and other districts of Saurashtra and Kutch regions through bulk pipelines. The CM had inaugurated three pumping stations at Dhanki and bulk pipelines project worth Rs 2,460 crore on April 5.
Thanks to these pipelines, the GWSSB had agreed to allocate additional 30 MLD water to RMC. With this addition, the city gets 220 MLD Narmada water daily. The civic body distributes 260 MLD water to residents everyday with the balance water coming from Bhadar dam. The civic body had imposed water cut in year 2012-13 and used to supply water for 20 minutes every alternate day. This year, too, the local dams had not received their fill and very little water is left in Aji and Nyari dams.
However, municipal commissioner Vijay Nehra denied the hoardings were set up by the RMC. “I can confirm that the hoarding boards have not been set up by the RMC. No work order has been issued for this nor any payment has been made,” said Nehra.
But Jay Agency, a contractor of RMC, which has set up the hoarding boards, said they had orders from secretary branch of the civic body. “We have installed around 35 hoarding boards after getting instructions from secretary branch of the RMC. The campaign is likely to cost the civic body Rs 60,000 approximately,” said Rohit Shah of Jay Agency.
On the other hand, Leader of Opposition in RMC, Gayatriba Vaghela, said the hoarding boards were an attempt to seek publicity in the election year. “Water is a basic necessity and and it is the responsibility of the office-bearers to provide basic amenities to residents of the city. There is no need to thank the government for this. Does the government set up hoardings when it reduces prices of petrol, telling people it is protecting their interests? This is a stunt when elections are coming around,” said Vaghela.
The Opposition leader also said that the city had got Narmada water 10 years late. “When Prime Minister Narendra Modi was elected as an MLA from the city in 2001, he had declared to give Rajkot Narmada water. But the city has got enough Narmada supply only now,” said Vaghela.