Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi on Monday alleged that the Centre was ignoring the state's repeated demand to install gates at the Sardar Sarovar dam.
"Forty years after Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru laid the foundation stone of the project, the state is still fighting for the installation of gates at Narmada dam, only because of non-cooperation from the Congress government at Centre," Modi said in Gujarat on Monday.
He addressed a farmers' rally after laying the foundation stone of the ambitious Rs 10,000 crore Saurashtra Narmada Avataran Irrigation project, which will take Narmada water to 115 dams and reservoirs in Saurashtra. Saurashtra region gets less than average rainfall, and water shortage is a perennial problem.
"I met Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) many times and sought permission to install gates, but received a cold response... which has annoyed all of us," Modi said, adding that the installation work would take nearly three years. "Nearly 60 per cent of water from Narmada river goes to waste as the dam work is incomplete, which we could save by installing the gates," he said.
"Congress has a problem with chaiwala (tea seller), but politics should be in its place and Congress should not scuttle the aspirations of farmers of the Saurashtra region.
"We have an economist Prime Minister and a knowledgeable Finance Minister, but the country's growth rate in agriculture has stagnated at two or three per cent, while Gujarat, which is facing shortage of water, has achieved 10 per cent growth rate," Modi said.