Gandhinagar: Congress, which was in power in Gujarat for thirty years till 1990, was responsible for the "delay" in completing the Narmada dam project, state Finance Minister Nitin Patel alleged on Monday.
However, opposition Congress and Gujarat Parivartan Party (GPP) criticised the BJP government for "ignoring" the water woes of the people of the state by failing to make concerted efforts towards the completion of canal works of the Narmada Project.
"Congress, which was in the power for 30 years between 1961 and 1990, is responsible for the delay in completion of the Narmada Project. It is because of them that the people of Saurashtra and Kutch are deprived of the benefits of this project," Patel said during his address to the Assembly.
He was addressing the House during a discussion on the budgetary demands of Rs 9,000 crore for Narmada development project for the year 2013-14.
"In the past 30 years, Congress was in power not only in Gujarat but at the Centre as well and their government could have made all the efforts to finish the project. But they have failed and the people of Saurashtra and Kutch are still deprived of Narmada waters as envisaged in the project," Patel said.
"The Bhakra-Nangal dam project (in north India) and the Sardar Sarovar dam on Narmada in Gujarat were started at the same time. But people in Punjab and Haryana are reaping the benefits of Bhakra-Nangal dam, whereas people in Gujarat are still awaiting," he added.
He alleged that before the Assembly elections, the state Congress leaders were requesting the Union Government led by their party not to give permission to install gates on the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Dam, as it will help store more water in the dam.
"They feared that if the gates are allowed, then Narendra Modi and BJP will win in such a way that the number of Congress MLAs would be reduced to a single digit (in Gujarat)," Patel further alleged amid protests from opposition members.
The minister claimed that since 2001 BJP government has increased the height of the Sardar Sarovar Dam to 121.92 meters and successfully taken the Narmada river water up to the North Gujarat providing irrigation waters to over 3 lakh hectares of land.
"Till now, we have built a canal network in the state for the Narmada waters, which will benefit 3,393 villages and 10,84,112 farmers across the state," he claimed.
Earlier, Congress MLA from Jamnagar Raghavji Patel had claimed that in the past two years, only 1,071 kms of canal work has been completed. "At such a pace, it will take 121 years to complete the canal work in the state," he alleged.
GPP leader and former Chief Minister Keshubhai Patel, too, criticised the BJP government saying it was not putting in serious efforts to complete the project. "If the government continues this way, then people of Saurashtra and Kutch will have no other option but to migrate," he said.
At the end of the discussion, when the motion came up for voting, the Chief Whip of the Congress party Balwantsinh Rajput withdrew all the cut motions presented by different Congress members on the budgetary demands of Narmada Development project, following which the motion was passed unanimously by the House.