Modi`s letter sparks war of words between Guj govt and Cong

A war of words has broken out between Gujarat Congress and the ruling BJP government.

Ahmedabad: A war of words has broken out between Gujarat Congress and the ruling BJP government over Chief Minister Narendra Modi`s letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking 90 percent central assistance for the Sardar Sarovar Project.

In the letter written to the Prime Minister on Saturday, Modi sought 90 per cent central assistance for irrigation projects for Drought Prone Area Programme (DPAP) and Desert Development Programme (DDP) under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP).

However, Leader of Opposition in Assembly Shankersinh Vaghela today accused Modi of "playing a blame game instead of concentrating on serious mismanagement of the state`s Narmada Department headed by him for the last 12 years."

"The issue of commissioning of gates over the Narmada dam was with the Narmada Control Authority (NCA) and the matter was stuck up on the issue of rehabilitation of displaced people, which was to be decided by the state government. But Modi used to curse the Prime Minister to gain political mileage," he said.

The Kapadvanj MLA said that the Chief Minister deliberately skipped acknowledging the fact that in 2006 the PM had given a nod to raise the dam height up to 121.96 meter.

"Even recently, when the NCA sanctioned the permission of installing gates over Narmada Dam, Modi did not utter a single word of acknowledgement," he added.

"Gujarat Chief Minister has himself admitted in the letter that only 7.19 lakh hectares of command area, out of the total 18.42 lakh hectares of Sardar Sarovar Project, has been developed and only possibilities of irrigation have been created and not the actual irrigation facilities," he added.

He said the state government gave "hollow promises".

"The Gujarat Chief Minister had declared that the entire command area would be completed by December 2012, though it has not yet been completed," he said.

Referring to the assistance sought by the state government for the project, Vaghela asked, "How did Modi plan the state`s finances for 12 years that there are no funds even for the lifeline of the state? If Gujarat is No 1 developed state, as claimed by the Chief Minister, why the state government is begging for funds from the Central government?"

Citing Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reports highlighting misappropriation of the central assistance granted by the Centre, he said, "The Union government provides central assistance in the form of AIBP (Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme) for construction of the canal systems in different states..."

"...And Gujarat has been given no less than Rs 3,000 crore in the last six years for the Sardar Sarovar project. However, the same has not been properly spent for the project which has triggered serious consequences in the form of administrative bottlenecks in availing central funds for the subsequent years," the Congress leader said.

Countering Vaghela`s claims, state Finance Minister Nitin Patel said that the state government spent Rs 762 crore for the Sardar Sarovar project in 2010 in comparison to the Rs 361 crore granted by the Centre the same year.

"The Union Government did not sanction even a single rupee for the project in 2011-12, but the state spent Rs 1,727 crore for the projects related to Narmada canals," Patel, who is also the state government spokesperson, said.

While in 2012-13, the Centre had released Rs 1,286 crore for the project, against which the state spent Rs 2,251 crore, Patel said.