February 22, 2017 1:56:54 am
In order to prevent a “probable water crisis” during summer in Kutch and to supply drinking water to the Border Security Force (BSF) posted on the Indo-Pakistan border, the state government on Tuesday allocated over Rs 5,100 crore in the state Budget to the Sardar Sarovar project that will help take Narmada waters to far-flung regions of the state’s biggest district.
Deputy Chief Minister Nitin Patel proposed an allocation of Rs 5,100 crore for the “monumental project of Sardar Sarovar.”
“It is for the strenuous effort of courageous people of Gujarat that Narmada water travels all the way to Kutch and converts its arid land into fertile soil. With an increase of Rs 782 crore, I propose allocation of Rs 5,100 crore for the monumental project of Sardar Sarovar,” he said in his Budget speech.
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“Drinking water will be provided to 71 border outposts of BSF with central assistance,” Patel added about extending the drinking water project that was first initiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2013. He also said that the state government plans to take one million acre feet of flood waters of Narmada to Kutch region for irrigating 22,300 hectares. “Tapar dam in Kutch district will be filled up with water by Kutch branch canal for which Rs 160 crore is allocated,” he said.
For preventing probable water crisis in Kutch during summer, a pumping station will be constructed to link Narmada pipeline near Bhachau for which Rs 35 crore has been allocated. About Rs 240 crore has also been allocated to repair and strengthen 20-year-old Narmada canals in Narmada, Bharuch, Panchmahal, Vadodara and Chhota Udepur districts.
Moreover, a high-level Gora bridge near Sardar Sarovar dam will be constructed for which Rs 142 crore has been allocated. The government has also made provisions to extend the Narmada main canal-based water supply scheme for 12 villages of Diyodar taluka of the border district of Banskantha as well.
Apart from water supply and irrigation projects, the state government will also be building a new Rs 4,050 crore barrage across Narmada river at Bhadbhut to prevent salinity ingress. “In Shuklatirth, downstream of Narmada river, intruding backwaters have led to salinity ingress in ground water and soil. As a result, there is a shortage of domestic and industrial water in the surrounding villages and towns. Therefore, a barrage across Narmada river at the project cost of Rs 4040 crore will be constructed at Bhadbhut, for which Rs 100 crore is provided,” the deputy chief minister added.
Describing the controversial Sujalam Sujlam scheme as a boon to farmers of north and central Gujarat, Patel said, “This scheme will be further enhanced to cover 3,000 hectares of Gandhinagar and 14,700 hectares of Mehsana in five lift irrigation schemes at a total cost of Rs 1,063 crore, out of which Rs 210 crore is provided in 2017-18.”
Commenting on the budget allocations for the Narmada water for Kutch district, Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Shankersinh Vaghela said that the state government had played a “joke”’ with the people of the arid Kutch region by allocating just Rs 76 crore for it. “It is a mischievous joke to allot merely Rs 76 crore for providing one million acre feet of water to Kutch district during the current financial year,” said Vaghela.
“The intention of the government is not to provide irrigation and drinking water to the people of the Kutch region. Making Narmada water supply through pipelines indicates some kind of corruption in making in the Narmada project in Kutch region,” remarked Vaghela.
He said that the BJP government that had earlier boasted to complete Narmada canal project by 2010 end, has not been able to complete it by even 2017.
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