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.
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.