Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Did Modi lie that he served people in Morbi after Macchu dam burst? Senior Gujarat academic: He wasn't around

Prof Niranjan Dave
By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment for Narendra Modi, Prof Niranjan Dave, who was head of the department with the Government Engineering or LE College, Morbi, has contested the Prime Minister's claim in in an election rally that he served people in the aftermath of the tragedy that befell the town after the Macchu dam burst on August 11, 1979.
In a Facebook post, reproduced by senior Gujarati journalist Hari Desai in his blog, Dave -- who was head of the department at the college when the calamity took place, served as director, technical education, Gujarat government, and vice chancellor of the North Gujarat University for two terms -- has said that he did not spot Modi in the town.
Dave, who also served as advisor with the Gujarat government, said in his post, "Today when I listened to the Prime Minister's speech at Morbi, I almost re-lived nightmare of August 11, the evening of Machchu Dam burst", insisting, "Nobody should claim credit for the service rendered to people in distress", and "Modiji has missed that point."
Pravin Maniar
Recalling those who helped the town in distress, Dave says, late Pravin Maniar of Rajkot, along with his volunteers, "was the first RSS leader to reach Morbi on August 12 evening." Recalling that he was present in Morbi "on that fateful day", Dave says, "My house was totally flooded just up to terrace, where we -- wife, two daughters and three year old son -- sought refuge for nearly five hours."
Pointing out that the waters receded leaving behind mud and slurry in the house and outside, and his family "passed the night in shock, still fearing the worse", Dave says, "Next day I moved out and around. There were several dead bodies hanging around. Late in the evening , my brother-in-law informed us that Pravinbhai has come from Rajkot."
Noting that in the aftermath he had the privilege to meet many volunteers, "including late Ashok Bhatt, late Arvind Maniar, late Shukla", Dave insists, "Unfortunately I had no privilege to meet Modiji, though I was continuously at Morbi for four months of massive restoring work."
Further recalling how "the roads were being cleared, debris was being removed from interior lanes and each house", Dave takes a dig at another Modi remark, that Indira Gandhi had covered her nose with a handkerchief, saying, "Added to this was extremely bad odour due to grains stored in the houses and shops. We all were covering our nose with mask. It was sickening."
Babubhai Jashbhai Patel
In fact, Dave says, "No wonder Mrs Gandhi covered her nose. She had deferred her visit instead of rushing to MORBI for the simple reason that her visit earlier would have disrupted rehabilitation work of officers and volunteers."
Dave goes on, "Our low profile chief minister late Babubhai J Patel, rushed to Morbi and established Chief Minister's Office at Manimandir. He stayed there till he was satisfied that the city and surrounding villages were practically restored to working conditions. He used to take daily round in the city to monitor the progress and understand the need for additional resources and assistance."
Pointing out that he "practically" belongs to Morbi -- he I studied at the LE College, Morbi, and thereafter served as faculty for 16 years, and all spent 19 years of his "prime time" in the town, -- Dave says, others who were active included college staff, volunteers of the Swaminarayan sect, Ramakrishna Mission volunteers and others.
He adds, "There were several other volunteer agencies who did marvellous work. Industrial houses from Ahmedabad, Vadodara, Rajkot and Surat gave coordinated services to repair machineries and restore all laboratories. Those working at LE College were immensely happy to retain heritage buildings, the legacy of Morbi Maharaja."

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