Sibal alleges water scam against Modi

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New Delhi, Dec 13 (UNI) Union Minister Kapil Sibal today alleged that the BJP government in Gujarat had touted the Rs 6300-crore "Sujalam Sufalam Scheme" as a panacea for the water woes of north Gujarat, but actually it added to the woes of poor Gujaratis.

In a statement issued from Bali, he alleged that large scale financial irregularities to the tune of Rs 500 crore were committed while implementing the scheme.

Mr Sibal said when Chief Minister Narendra Modi launched the scheme with fanfare on June 14 this year, it was still under various stages of implementation.

He said the irregularities in the scheme were disclosed in the tenth report of the Public Accounts Committee (2005-06).

Instead of tabling the report in the Gujarat Assembly, the report was returned by the Gujarat Assembly Speaker for a review in August, 2006.

"Mr Modi may misuse his power to prevent the disclosure of his government's corruption but the truth has been revealed by the PAC findings," Mr Sibal said.

Quoting from the report, he alleged that Rs 668 crores worth of contracts (Rs. 458 crore for earthworks and Rs.210 crore for checkdams) were given to about ten incompetent contractors, bypassing the tender process, while the Water Resources, Water Supply and Kalpasar Department showed on papers that 72 agencies were involved.

He said Mr Modi had promised that the scheme would provide employment to poor labourers and farmers as construction of checkdams and canals as well as earthwork was to be done with public participation.

However, the report had pointed out that "the scrutiny of documents and information available from the Water Resources Department show that instead, contracts were given to contractors without even finalizing unit rates and without any involvement of the local people".

Mr Sibal said the Committee was also of the opinion that by not involving the local people the total expenditure had been raised by 20 to 40 per cent. Checkdams constructed at a cost of Rs.45 crores were washed away or simply collapsed during 2006 monsoon because of incompetent contractors and poor construction.

In this context, he said that the Water Resources Wing of Narmada, Water Resources, Water Supply and Kalpasar Department were quick to adjust this loss of Rs.45 crores in the Calamity Relief Fund.

Mr Sibal said if Mr Modi was true to his claim that his government was the most honest and transparent among all state governments in Gujarat, why did not he table the report in the assembly and why he did not order any inquiry against those responsible for the scam.

UNI

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