Thursday, December 26, 2002, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

‘Swajaldhara’ to take water to villages
PM’s gift to country on his birthday
Tribune News Service

Vice-President Bhairon Singh Sekhawat offers a sweet to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee
Vice-President Bhairon Singh Sekhawat offers a sweet to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on the occasion of his 78th birthday in New Delhi on Wednesday, while Deputy Prime Minister L. K. Advani looks on. — PTI photo

New Delhi, December 25
On the occasion of his 78th birthday, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee launched an ambitious scheme, “Swajaldhara”, aimed at providing drinking water to all villages in the country by 2004.

Launching the scheme of the Union Rural Development Ministry from his official residence here through video-conferencing with functions being held at three villages in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh, Mr Vajpayee hoped that “Swajaldhara” would usher in a revolution in the countryside.

In this context, he pointed out that the government had undertaken the massive task of linking of all major rivers in the country to ensure that water does not go waste.

The Prime Minister appealed to all political parties for cooperating with the government on the project as it was a national one.

Inaugurating Andhra Pradesh’s “Swajaldhara” scheme at a village in Adilabad district through video-conferencing, Mr Vajpayee said the Centre’s share for these projects was being released at the earliest. These schemes are implemented with 90 per cent central and 10 per cent states’ contribution. The Prime Minister was happy that with this scheme, rural women would save a lot of time and spend it in a better and more useful way on their family. Till now, they are fetching water from far-off places.

The Prime Minister also assured the villagers at Malkup in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra that the Centre was ready to help rural people get safe drinking water.

The third scheme inaugurated by the Prime Minister was in the rural Lucknow area. Mr Vajpayee said it was the happiest moment of his life that he could see and hear from the villagers about the usefulness of this scheme.

The Prime Minister also exchanged greetings with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati who presided over the function at Lucknow.

Rural Development Minister Shanta Kumar said in the first phase, the scheme would be operationalised in 883 villages with the Centre earmarking Rs 87 crore for the purpose.

The functions were held at Avalapur village in Andhra Pradesh, Malkup in Maharashtra and Gohan Kala in Uttar Pradesh where U P Chief Minister Mayawati was present. The Prime Minister assured her that the Centre would not be found wanting in providing funds for the scheme.

Meanwhile, since early morning today, the PM’s residence was the most sought after address in the town as the common man, social activists, Parliamentarians and ministers thronged 7, RCR, wishing him happy birthday.

Among the early callers on the Prime Minister were Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan and senior RSS leader Madan Das Devi. Mr Advani presented a lifesize portrait of the Prime Minister to Mr Vajpayee.

Former President K.R. Narayanan, Lok Sabha Speaker Manohar Joshi, External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha, Communication Minister Pramod Mahajan and Environment and Forest Minister T.R. Baalu also called on Mr Vajpayee.

With the crack of the dawn, Mr Vajpayee had a “puja” at home followed by a breakfast with close friend L.K. Advani and his family, a practice for several decades now.

A cultural and patriotic programme ‘Yudh Aur Shanti’ (War and Peace) was opened at the lawns of India Gate this evening which was watched, among others, by Mr Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and Mr L.K. Advani. An on-the-spot painting competition for children and a photo-exhibition on Mr Vajpayee and his government’s achievements during the past four years were also organised.

Tamil Nadu Governor P.S. Ramamohan Rao, Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa and DMK President M. Karunanidhi were among those who greeted Mr Vajpayee. Ms Jayalalithaa, in her message, said, “I pray that the Almighty may grant you many more years of good health and peace to serve our country with renewed strength and vigour,” while Mr Karunanidhi said “I wish your services to the nation, polity and society and the Indian literature continue for years to come.”Back

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