‘Narmade Sarvade’ was the essence of Shri Narendra Modi’s address at the historic inaugural ceremony of the SAUNI (Saurashtra Narmada Avtaran Irrigation) Yojana pipeline in Rajkot, on the morning of 17th February.
The project focuses on providing the Narmada water to more than 900 villages across Saurashtra. On the occasion, Shri Narendra Modi also did the digital inauguration of the National Land Resurvey Programme.
Laying increased emphasis and focused efforts at taking forward the agricultural sector of the State, and the country, by introducing latest approaches and bringing in modern techniques, was the crux of Shri Modi’s address.
Shri Modi spoke of how the focus on ensuring availability of water to the farmers was given precedence than providing electricity, and how the use of techniques like drip irrigation proved to bring about the revolutionary change in this sector. “We had said it back then that our farmer needs water first and the foremost, even ahead of electricity. And today we are seeing fruits of what we said back then - farmers are realising the importance of water and are ahead of the Government too,” said Shri Modi.
Shri Modi gave due credit to the farmers for being enthusiastic towards adapting the changes, and highlighted how this had evolved an arid region like Kutch to become an exporter of high-quality mangoes. He also mentioned the prominence of Gujarat in the export of potatoes and bananas, which was all achieved due to the adoption of modern techniques, which not only ensure good-quality produce in the least possible land, but also led to saving of water resources. “We are committed to ensuring how productivity will increase in agriculture,” said Shri Modi while speaking about the many innovative programmes of the Gujarat government that promised increased agricultural produce. These included the revolutionary Jyotigram Yojana, drip irrigation, subsidies for Greenhouses and promoting use of sprinklers.
“Value addition is important in agriculture. It will help the farmers immensely,” said Shri Modi while focusing on how value-addition in agriculture was the need-of-the-hour and for this due focus must be laid on the aspects of agri-infrastructure (providing wells, modern techniques for irrigation), agri-tech (ensuring human resource development through establishing ITIs and engineering colleges for agriculture) and agro-based industries.
Shri Modi also spoke of giving due prominence to 3 aspects so as to make the life of the farmer more secure. These included a focused approach on traditional agriculture, emphasizing on the dairy industry which gave regular source of income, and cultivation of trees on the borders of every field so as to reap returns in due course of time. “I remember how dairies suffered. We changed that and we put new life into the sector,” said Shri Modi while putting forth the Gujarat government’s emphasis on the dairy industry, whereby Pashu melas were organized to improve cattle-breeding and modern tools were given for extraction of wool from the sheep.
Sharing his focus, Shri Modi spoke that he was not keen on politicizing the Narmada project. “Narmada Yojana is not the scheme of one party, person or government. Every Chief Minister and all past governments have made efforts and I give the credit to everyone. There is no question of politics on Narmada but yes, if work is getting stalled we have full right to voice our protest. I met the PM several times for the installing of gates, as the work after that will take time too. The PM keeps saying your point is right but nothing happens. I also told the Centre to allow the gates on Narmada and I will give credit to Congress and their leaders, their family too,” said Shri Modi, while stressing on the difficulties faced in terms of getting approvals from the Central government for the erection of gates at the Narmada canal. “Currently just 40 per cent of the water is being used, and this has already made the Kutch belt greener. Imagine the scope when 100 per cent of the water is used,” said Shri Modi.
Highlighting Gujarat’s remarkable progress on the agriculture front in the past decade, Shri Modi spoke of how earlier the State was left behind in this sector owing to the less-rainfall and drought-prone conditions that were predominant then, but a focused approach at introducing modernization and adopting new techniques had gone a long way in resulting in a surge in the agriculture activities. “For years we were hearing that Narmada will come and we will gain from it,” said Shri Modi, while adding that finally the water of Narmada was now to reach the people across the State. “SAUNI Yojana will go a long way in giving water here but I will again reiterate my demand to farmers to embrace drip irrigation,” said Shri Modi.
Amongst the dignitaries to attend the occasion included Shri Vajubhai Vala, Shri RC Faldu, Shri Saurabh Patel and Shrimati Vasuben Trivedi.