Ahmedabad, Saturday: In a fresh letter written to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Gujarat Chief Minister Mr. Narendra Modi today forcefully reiterated the demand for inclusion of Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) on the Narmada River for Centre’s Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) for areas under Desert Development Programme (DDP).
Mr. Modi recalled that he had raised the legitimate issue with the Prime Minister earlier on January 17, May 17 and June 21 in 2011, demanded that SSP deserves 90 per cent of the assistance. It was corroborated by the Union Minister of Water Resources and Minorities those areas under DDP deserve higher priority than even Drought-Prone Area Development (DPAP).
He recalled that Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission had in a letter on March 29, 2011 also supported the Gujarat Government’s aforesaid demand. The Planning Commission appointed Task Force in 2008 too, called for removing discrepancies in the allotment of Central assistance under DDP and DPAP. As a sequel to this, Union Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure Facilities discussed the issue in May 2010 and suggested guidelines for inclusion of three DDP and DPAP water resources projects – two in Punjab and one in Karnataka – for Central assistance, excluding Gujarat’s SSP.
Mr. Modi further asserted in his latest letter that the Prime Minister is fully seized with the facts and significance, even as 75 per cent of the18.45-lakh hectare SSP command areas come under DPAP (5.08-lakh ha or 27,56 per cent) and DDP (8.73-lakh ha or 47.13 per cent).
He said that it is a well known fact that rainfall is far less and infrequent in areas under DDP rather than DPAP, which demands that top priority be given to the SSP as the Narmada river water is the only lifeline for inclusion under Inter-Basin Transfer of Water. So far, he pointed out, SSP had created irrigation potential in 7.19-lakh ha, while the bulk of remaining areas yet to be covered fall under DDP and DPAP. The Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) of national importance to increase agricultural production contributing to the overall development of India could progress faster if only it is covered under AIBP, he said.