The Gujarat government on Tuesday came under attack from Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh for not spending funds provided by the Centre for implementing an ambitious programme to conserve water in drought-hit areas of Gujarat.

In a letter to Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Mr. Ramesh said that under the Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP), the Centre has, so far, released Rs. 702 crore and the unspent balance available with the State was about Rs. 409 crore.

“In Gujarat, the cost of sanctioned projects between 2009-10 (and) 2013-14 is Rs. 3,178 crore... Had Gujarat implemented its IWMP projects as it had committed to, it could have got another Rs. 407 crore more from the Centre over the last four years,” he said.

Seeking to puncture the BJP PM candidate’s Gujarat Development Model claim, the Minister sought Mr. Modi’s “personal intervention in setting the structure right” in the State for the implementation of IWMP.

Mr. Ramesh’s letter to Mr. Modi comes two days after the BJP leader blamed the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre for lack of development in mineral-rich Jharkhand where the former chairs the coordination committee for Congress-JMM-RJD alliance government.

Gujarat is “most important State” for the implementation of the programme, Mr. Ramesh said about the IWMP launched in 2009-10 with the objective of restoring the ecological balance by harnessing, conserving and developing degraded natural resources such as soil, vegetative cover and water.

The Minister noted that barring Karnataka, the pace of implementation of IWMP in almost every State leaves much to be deserved.

According to officials, the outcomes of implementation of IWMP are prevention of soil and surface water run-off, regeneration of natural vegetation, rain water harvesting and recharging of the groundwater table.

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