Gandhinagar, Feb 24 (UNI) Even as the size of the state budget increased three-fold from Rs 4,500-crore in 1997-98 to Rs 12,503-crore in 2006-07, Chief Minister Narendra Modi today accorded the highest priority to water and power.
Presenting the budget in the State Assembly here, he said that Rs 3,887-crore has been allocated for water conservation and irrigation and Rs 1,020-crore for power, as part of the state's ambitious plan for bringing about a Second Green Revolution.
This included a record Rs 2,600-crore for the gigantic inter-state Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) on the Narmada and Rs 1,419-crore for the Sujalam Sufalam Yojna, interlinking river-basins. The state is ready to take the height of the dam from 110.38 metres to 121.92 metres, immediately after the Narmada Control Aithority (NCA) grants permission.
Mr Modi also announced a slew of new projects to be taken up in the next financial year, including a 4,000 MW ultra mega power plant at Mundra in Kutch district. While it will take time to get started, he proposed to increase the capacity of exisiting power plants at Panandhro, Dhuvaran, Mangrol, Surat, and canal-based SSP by 1,650 MW during 2006-07.
It is also for the first time that Governments of Maharashtra and Gujarat have jointly bid for mining rights the 16 sq km of Mahanadi and 20 sq km of Machakata coal blocks in Orissa as captive coalfields for their respective thermal power plants.
In a dramatic turn around, he said that Gujarat Electricity Board (GEB), which incurred a loss of Rs 2,542-crore in 2001-02, has posted a profit of Rs 49-crore in the first nine months of the current fiscal and which is likely to cross Rs 200-crore mark by March 31, 2006.
The Chief Minister, who holds the Finance portfolio, said that private investments totalling Rs 1,370-crore are lined up for Mundra, Pipavav, Dahej and other ports during 2006-07.
In another important announcement, he offered to transfer the leasehold land allotted on 99 years lease in industrial estates as free hold land after payment of reasonable premium.
Talking about the state's water revolution, he said, the number of villages served by tankers has come down from 4,054 to 125 over the last few years, thanks to comprehensive water management projects.
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