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The Indian Express: National Network: Full story
Sunday, June 3, 2001

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Gujarat unable to pay contractors for canal project

Express News Service

Gandhinagar, June 2: The cash-strapped Gujarat government is finding it difficult to pay contractors engaged in lining the 60 km Ukai-Kakrapar canal in south Gujarat. The Rs 117-crore project had been sanctioned some six months ago, when Jay Narayan Vyas was minister-in-charge of major irrigation works.

State Irrigation Minister Nitin Patel conceded here on Thursday that the government could pay only Rs 27 crore of the total Rs 117 crore to the civil contractors who completed the project in just 75 days, the deadline set by the department for its execution.

In an informal session with mediapersons, Patel said the government was expected to receive grant from the NABARD shortly, which would help it pay the remaining dues. Justifying the project, he said it was necessary to carry out the lining work of the earthen canal to prevent seepage of water.Meanwhile, the minister said his department had drawn up a plan to deepen as many as 600 villages ponds in north Gujarat during the current year, which would not only help conserve the monsoon water, but also raise the water table.

The government has earmarked Rs 35 crore for the plan, under which 10 per cent of the expenditure on the deepening of the village tanks will be shared by local people, while the rest will be borne by the government. The deepening of the ponds would help raise the water conservation capacity by 900 million cubic feet and energise about 25,000 tubewells in the region. Out of the 600 ponds, 100 will be deepened by June 15. Patel said that in the past two years, as many as 225 tanks had been deepened at a cost of Rs 13 crore, raising the water conservation capacity by 244 million cubic feet in north Gujarat.

He said the government was not averse to launching this scheme in other parts of the state too. The work on construction of check dams in Saurashtra is in progress.

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