Now, Narendra Modi, Jairam Ramesh in fresh 'manufactured' spat

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Jan 2 2014, 23:14pm hrs
In a fresh attack on Narendra Modi, Jairam Ramesh today said the Gujarat Chief Minister had been "badly misinformed" about his government's spending of central funds for water conservation programme in drought-hit areas of the state.

His statement against the BJP's Prime Ministerial candidate came a day after Narendra Modi government dismissed as "factually incorrect" the claims made by the Rural Development Minister that the state had failed to spend a chunk of the central funds meant for Centre's ambitious Integrated Watershed Management Programme (IWMP) in the state.

Jairam Ramesh rejected the counter charges made by the Gujarat Government, saying that all the figures that he had mentioned in his letter to Narendra Modi on the issue of utilisation of central fund for IWMP in the state was not "manufactured" by the Rural Development Ministry.

In his fresh letter to the Gujarat Chief Minister, Jairam Ramesh also said that the figures given by him in his earlier letter were based on utilisation certificates submitted by the state government.

"I am sorry that you have been badly misinformed. All the figures that I have quoted in my letter are in the public domain and are available on our website. We have not manufactured them. They are there for anybody to see," Jairam Ramesh said.

In his earlier letter, Ramesh had claimed that under the IWMP, the Centre had, 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 to 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 from the Centre over the last four years," Jairam Ramesh had said.

Dismissing the allegation, state government spokesperson Nitin Patel had said yesterday that Jairam Ramesh's claims are factually incorrect and misleading as his data reflects expenditure up to June 30, 2013 only.

Jairam Ramesh also dismissed the allegations levelled Patel that only Gujarat has been targeted by the Centre for under-utilisation of fund and the figure of Rs 409 crore being unspent was "exaggerated."

"...similar letters of severe under-utilisation of funds have been sent to Chief Ministers of Odisha, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Chhattisgarh. Thus, there is no deliberate targeting of Gujarat as is being made out," he said.

In his detailed letter in which he addressed the BJP leader as "My dear Shri Narendra Modi", Jairam Ramesh said that he has been concerned about the implementation of IWMP in all states except in Karnataka.

The Minister said that had asked Secretary (Land Resources) and Joint Secretary dealing with IWMP to visit Gujarat (apart from other lagging states) and they did so on September 7, 2013.

"They met with the Chief Secretary and other officials concerned and discussed the slow pace of implementation in detail. As a result, on December 30, 2013 a proposal has been received from Gujarat for releasing Rs 625.44 crore for further implementation of IWMP.

"This proposal is being examined, as it has to be, and I am sure that in the next few days a decision will be communicated to the state government," he said.

Jairam Ramesh also said Gujarat government officials dealing with Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) will "testify that Rural Development Ministry goes out of its way to be accommodative of requests made by state governments and does not delay its due diligence, which I am sure you will agree, must be carried out before funds are released".

Concluding his letter, Jairam Ramesh said, "You may recall that just a couple of weeks ago, we have released Rs 726 crore for the upgradation of about 1210 kms of rural roads in Gujarat under PMGSY-II."