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Friday: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi today laid the foundation stone of the Narmada branch canal at Limdi for the Saurashtra region involving an Investment of Rs.348-crore. He had earlier laid the stone for Narmada branch canal at Rapar last fortnight, thus starting the works for two major branch canals for the parching Saurashtra and Kutch region, totaling an investment of Rs.9,100-cr in less than a month.

In a major shift, he said, the state government has thus increased its budgeted expenditure manifold on the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) manifold, which added up since the beginning till 2002 to just Rs.6,000-crore. The initiative has in turn helped the government save huge amount on providing water through tankers to 4,000-villages in the drought-prone regions till recently. He said the people in the region might get the Narmada water in less than 50 months for which they had to wait for 50 years.

Mr. Modi said the government is committed to hasten the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) to provide canal water as god's gift to as many areas as possible. He wished the farmers extend full support in land acquirement as the government provided adequate compensation to the affected persons. However, he warned against theft of canal waters. When the government is providing Narmada water as people's right, what is the need for committing the sin of theft. He asked the villagers to be vigilant against such theft.

Speaking on the occasion, Water Resources Minister Nitin Patel said that Chief Minister Narendra Modi had taken on himself the Himalayan task of hastening the project, including his 72-hour fast to raise the height of the SSP dam on the Narmada.

Education Minister Ramanlal Vora recalled that the people of Surendranagar had in the past difficulty in getting drinking water during frequent droughts, but now they could get ready to irrigate their fields, too. He echoed the demand for declaring SSP a national project.

Prominent among those present on the occasion included Revenue Minister Anandiben Patel, Minister of State for Forest Kiritsinhji Rana, Gujarat's Golden Jubilee Celebration Committee Chairman I.K. Jadeja, SSNL Chairman Rajgopalan, Managing Director S. Jagdeeshan, Joint Managing Director G.R. Aloria, Director K. Sriniwas, Soniwala and Mukeshbhai Zaveri. Wadhwan Nagarpalika, Sursagar and others donated Rs.28-lakh for Chief Minister's Kanya Kelavni Nidhi.

Gujarat Information Bureau

 
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