Skip to main content

Gujarat govt's water conservation campaign meant to "hide" deep-seated corruption at the highest level

By Our Representative
India’s top civil rights organization, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), has alleged that the Gujarat government’s ambitious Jal Sanchay Abhiyan, claimed to have been launched to conserve water during the coming monsoon by deepening lakes, tanks, reservoirs and constructing new check dams, besides desilting riverbeds and canals, is a nothing but “a fabrication to hide deep-seated corruption at the highest level.”
Concluded on June 1, not only has the campaign has not been able to cater 10% of the population of Gujarat, it has failed to meet any targets, said PUCL.
Quoting official figures, a PUCL statement said, out of 1 lakh lakes only 13,000 were deepened, and as against 52 lakh farm ponds, only about 2.61 lakh were dug up, insisting, the actual purpose of the water conservation crusade was “to cover up the state government's corruption in Gujarat Land Development Corporation (GLDC)”, a state-run Public Sector Undertaking (PUCL).
GLDC was recently in news for massive corruption following an Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) raid, leading to the arrest of SK Detroja, its managing-director, as also several other officials, in whose drawers cash worth Rs 56 lakh was recovered, all of it said to be graft money for different GLDC schemes.
Ironically, close on the heels of the raids, instead of carrying on a deeper inquiry which would have revealed a bigger scam, the state water resources department was asked to implement the Jal Sanchay Abhiyan.
Talking with media at PUCL press conference in Ahmedabad, former BJP chief minister Suresh Mehta alleged, there is nothing new about the crusade. “It has been going on for many years. The only new thing was, this time it was being implemented by the water resources department, and this has been done to hide what has been going on inside GLDC”.
Terming it “institutionalized corruption”, Mehta said, “As soon as that scam came to light the Government launched Jal Sanchay Abhiyan in a big way. In order to show that it is something new, the state government gave it the name of Sujalam Sufalam Water Conservation Scheme, setting aside the earlier name of Sardar Patel Community Water Conservation scheme, as it has been known for several years.”
Pointing towards how the “new” scheme was a total failure, addressing media, senior economist Prof Rohit Shukla told media, “As of 2014-15, in all 1,65,560 checkdams were built under the Sardar Patel Community Water Conservation scheme. In the last four years this has been increased to 1,68,895, a rise of just about 3,335 checkdams.”
“Similarly”, said Prof Shukla, “During the same period, while 1,22,035 weirs already existed, they went up to 1,25,541, which means an addition of 3,506 weirs”, adding, “Number of farm ponds, which were 2,61,785 in 2014-15, have increased to 2,61,988, resulting in the increase of 203 only. Then, while Gujarat as in all 203 lakes, only 13,000 of them were officially announced to have been deepened.”
Senior environmentalist Mahesh Pandya said, “Such poor showing was there despite the fact that official figures suggest, as against 527 JCB machines originally planned for different works, their numbers were increased to 4,600. Similarly, while originally the plan was to put into operation 2,000 tractors, their numbers went up to 16,000.”
“Then”, said Pandya, “Originally, 27,000 rural workers were to be employed under the National Rural Guarantee Employment Scheme for the campaign, but official figures show that the numbers employed went up to 3 lakh.”
He added, “Originally, the state government announced it would use Rs 200 crore for various schemes under the campaign. However, it finally declared it had used Rs 354 crore. One wonders whether more than half of the agriculture budget of the state government for the year 2018-19, around Rs 600 crore, was used up this.”
The PUCL statement, distributed to the media, quoted Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani as saying that, because of its water conservation campaign, “fertile soil that will be generated out of deepening of ponds/check dams shall be offered without recovering royalty of a single paisa.”
However, in actual fact, things were quite different. Thus, PUCL said, “In Dudheeya village of Limkheda taluka of Dahod District, Rs 5 crore was allocated, and the work was executed by deploying machinery, and the soil/clay that was generated was sold at a price ranging from Rs 300 to Rs 800 per tractor load. This goes to prove that in executing this so-called water conservation scheme, lot of corruption had taken place.”

Comments

TRENDING

You promised 50 lakh houses, give us one: Ahmedabad migrant women's plea to Modi

Women display letters containing rakhi for PM    By Hirabhai Solanki, Bhartiben Dantani, Ramesh Shrivastav*  Poor labouring families, including seasonal or long-term migrants of nearly 15 squatter settlements -- working as construction and casual workers and petty vendors, providing cheap but critically important labour for Ahmedabad city, living under plastic sheetings -- have reminded the Gujarat and Central Governments about the promise made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi of building 50 lakh dwellings, wherein every pavement dweller and homeless would be given a decent home by the end of 2022. Holding a meeting in Ahmedabad under the aegis of the Majur Adhikaar Manch, they also referred to the appeal of the Prime Minister to poor and labouring women, seeking his support as brother by sending rakhis to protect their humble basti dwellings and provide them with decent housing, which is secure for them and their families. So far, about 300 women have posted rakhis to the Prime Ministe

A tale of horror and fraud: Profits in trillions of dollars for vaccine manufacturers?

By Aruna Rodrigues*  John Leake is a best-selling and “experienced non-fiction, true crime author”. Having just read what must be described as an extraordinary ‘telling’ of the Covid-19 saga, his book “The Courage to Face Covid-19: Preventing Hospitalization and Death While Battling the Bio-Pharmaceutical Complex”, co-authored with Peter A McCullough, MD, MPH, is the narration of true crime on a scale that could top the list in the history of ‘man’s inhumanity to man’. The book chronicles the unique role of national governments across the world and their health agencies, led by the USA and WHO, which followed an agenda that led to completely avoidable fatalities numbering several million. The question is why? The usual culprits are money and power. But to ascribe cause to these two is woefully insufficient. The sheer magnitude of the ‘dark agenda’ – coordinated and played out by governments, health agencies, the medical establishment (hospitals, doctors and chemists) and the massive a

A countdown to disaster: Breach in fly-ash bunds of Nagpur's thermal power plants

Fly-ash dyke, Koradi thermal power plant  By Dhwani Shah, Deepmala Patel*  Last month the residents of several villages of Nagpur district woke up to the nightmare of being inundated with fly-ash. Located in the north of Nagpur city are Koradi and Khaparkheda thermal power stations which have their ash dykes in the vicinity. On July 10, 2022 at 3 am, the ash dyke of the Khaparkheda thermal power station broke, leading to ash contaminating the Kanhan river. Though the authorities claimed to have acted quickly and the fly ash dumping in the river was stopped, the claim stood to be misleading and false. Even today, the Kanhan river continues to be polluted with fly-ash, and the water supply to the city is affected. Not only did ash dyke of the Khaparkheda power station break, on July 16, 2022, the ash bund of the Koradi thermal power plant also broke. Fly-ash and water stored in the dyke gushed downstream to six villages -- drowning houses, water bodies and farmlands. With such large-

Kailash Satyarthi NGO floats new centre in Delhi to 'empower' underprivileged children

By Our Representative  A voluntary organisation linked with Nobel laureate Kailash Satyarthi-supported NGO has floated a unique children’s resource centre at Sanjay Camp, Chankyapuri, New Delhi, in order to facilitate in imparting remedial education, recreational training and holistic development of children of around 2,500 under-privileged slum-dwelling families. Virender Singh Kadian, MLA of Delhi Cantonment, inaugurated the centre, which is called Shaheed Kalu Bal Vikas Kendra. The resource centre is in memory of Kalu Kumar, who died at an young age serving and working towards the development of under-privileged children, said an NGO source. A firebrand activist, Kalu Kumar was trafficked from Bihar to the carpet manufacturing belt of Allahabad when he was six. He was rescued by the Bachpan Bachao Andolan at the age of 10. A bright student, Kalu he covered up the lost ground very quickly and grew up to become a leader fighting for the rights of other child slaves at Bal Ashram. In

Golwalkar's views on tricolour, martyrs, minorities, caste as per RSS archives

By Shamsul Islam*  First time in the history of independent India, the in-charge minister of the Cultural Ministry in the current Modi government, Prahlad Singh Patel, has glorified MS Golwalkar, second supremo of the RSS and the most prominent ideologue of the RSS till date, on his birth anniversary, February 19. In a tweet he wrote : “Remembering a great thinker, scholar, and remarkable leader #MSGolwalkar on his birth anniversary. His thoughts will remain a source of inspiration & continue to guide generations.”

Multi-crore NRC updation scam? Awaited: Assam media's self-cleaning mechanism

By Nava Thakuria  If some editor-journalists are allegedly involved in a financial scam, shouldn't the people get an opportunity to identify them? As the mainstream newspapers and news channels of Assam are avoiding the issue in their coverage, how come the actual picture will come to the public domain? If the mainstream media outlets intentionally kill the news, reasons best known to the editors, should the social media users take a lead? By now a number of senior journalists (with experience in print journalism for many decades) have highlighted the issue in social media. Their message is loud and clear- identify the corrupt television journalists who grabbed a huge amount of money which is actually meant for thousands of Assamese professionals. It all began when a second first information report (FIR) was filed by the outgoing State coordinator of National Register of Citizens (NRC) against his predecessor alleging corruption and money laundering while updating the 1951 NRC in A

RSS, Sangh Parivar consider tricolour as "state flag" and not "national flag"

By Teesta Setalvad* Today, when the nation has been independent for 67 years, the Sangh Parivar is set to launch ‘Tiranga yatras’ and Satyagrahas to defend the honour of the flag and the nation. Yet when the Indian people were involved in the decades-long struggle for freedom against British imperialism, the RSS was conspicuous by its absence in the struggle. When thousands of people faced lathis, bullets and jail sentences for hoisting the tiranga and participated all over the country in satyagraha during the Civil Disobedience and Quit India movements against the British Raj, the Sangh publicly took the stand that it would not take part in the movement and seldom missed the opportunity of assuring the British rulers that they would keep to the right side of colonial law and avoid any clash with the authorities. Of course the reason given for this was that the Sangh was secretly strengthening itself and would take on British imperialism only when it was strong enough to do so! A simil

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

'Grossly inadequate': NREGA allocation 0.29% of GDP, World Bank recommended 1.6%

By Rajiv Shah  A civil society tracker, seeking to periodically analyse the implementation of the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), has said that NREGA budgetary allocation is only 0.29% of GDP and 1.85% of the total government expenditure of the financial year 2022-23, which is grossly inadequate. Thus, “As per estimates of researchers of the World Bank, for NREGA to run robustly, its allocation must at least be 1.6% of the GDP.” Prepared by the People’s Action for Employment Guarantee (PAEG), a group of activists, academics and members of people’s organizations, who came together to advocate for NREGA in 2004 in order to catalyse discussion and strengthen the top Government of India rural jobs guarantee scheme, the tracker states, the NREGA budget as percentage of the total government expenditure has also decreased -- it stands at 1.85% for FY 2022-23, just about half the level in FY 2020-21 (3.65%). The tracker, titled “Meagre Funds and Unlawfully Low Wages: How

Since 2015 Govt of India didn't allocate single rupee to Gujarat for RTI training, awareness

By Pankti Jog*  The Department of Personnel and Training, Government of India (GoI) has allocated Rs 8.7 crore to Maharashtra for conducting Right to Information (RTI) training and awareness between 2015 to 2022. Of this, Rs 5.9 crore has gone to the Maharashtra State Training Institute, YASHADA, and Rs 3.01 crore have gone to the State Information Commission, Maharashtra. Gujarat, on the other hand, has not received even a single rupee over the last seven years for RTI programmes. Even Gujarat’s State Information Commission too has not not received any funds since 2005. RTI is one of the effective tools to bring transparency and accountability in the administration, thus improve governance. If citizens are aware, they would participate in a more meaningful manner in governance. They would effectively monitor planning and expenses of public programmes. Indeed, it is necessary that RTI is taken to every citizen, for which the government needs to conduct awareness drives and training