SSP ideal solution for Gujarat drought: Gowda

AHMEDABAD, MAY 7. The former Prime Minister, Mr. H. D. Deve Gowda, has said the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) on the Narmada is one of the permanent solutions for fighting drought in Gujarat.

Talking to reporters here on Saturday, Mr. Gowda, who visited some of the drought-hit areas of Surendranagar district in Saurashtra, stressed the need for maximum conservation of rain water to raise the sub-soil water level, since the Narmada would not reach all districts in the region.

Even if the dam water did not reach all the districts, it would still be a major source for increasing the sub-soil water level all over the Kutch-Saurashtra region.

Mr. Gowda said he was shocked that the project did not reach the expected level, even after the four Chief Ministers concerned had agreed to go ahead with the construction upto 436 feet which would have helped in beginning water supply. With more than Rs. 8,000 crores already spent on the construction and the Gujarat Government losing over Rs. 10 crores a day, stoppage of the work would be a waste and it should be expedited.

It was only in India that the so-called environmentalists come in the way of development, disallowing people to reap the benefits of such schemes. The World Bank and International Monetary Fund were setting ``conditions'' for supporting the Narmada project, ignoring the fact that the U.S. and China, among all nations, had constructed the highest number of mega-dams.

On Mr. Vajpayee's appeal not to politicise the drought situation, Mr. Gowda said the BJP and the Congress(I) were responsible for politicising the super cyclone in Orissa keeping an eye on elections. Once the elections were over, both the parties ``totally forgot'' the cyclone-affected villages.