Palamau (Jharkhand): In an obvious attack on the Congress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said that he preferred to complete the pending irrigation projects to empower farmers instead of waiving their loans.
Modi told a public rally in Palamau, about 160 km from Ranchi, that when he took power in May 2014, he found that several irrigation projects were pending for 30 to 40 years.
"Our government has started work on 99 pending irrigation projects at a cost of Rs 90,000 crore. Our government preferred to complete the irrigation projects instead of waiving loans," he said after laying the foundation stones of six irrigation projects.
Work on the North Koel (Mandal) irrigation project was started in 1972 and ended in 1993, Modi said. The irrigation project is now a joint venture of Bihar and Jharkhand.
The prime minister said that it would irrigate 111,000 hectare of land including 19,000 hectares in Jharkhand.
In 1972, the project cost was Rs 30 crore which had now swollen to Rs 2,400 crore, he pointed out.
"Keeping the irrigation projects pending was criminal negligence on the part of the previous government," he said.
"How could a irrigation project be pending for 50 years? The previous government viewed farmers as a vote bank while our government considers them Annadata."
Again attacking the Congress, Modi said: "The previous government first made the farmer take loan and is now doing the drama of loan waiving.
"Our government believes in strengthening the farmer and empowering them by ensuring irrigation to agriculture land."
Modi congratulated Chief Ministers Nitish Kumar of Bihar and Raghubar Das of Jharkhand for setting an example of cooperative federalism.
"I congratulate both Chief Minister for starting the Mandal dam project. This is happening when many states are fighting over water and the cases are in the Supreme Court."
Modi also took a dig at Congress President Rahul Gandhi but without taking his name.
"Those who are showing concern for farmers must not be knowing what Koel is? They must be confused whether Koel is the name of a bird or something else."
He also targeted the Congress for launching housing schemes in the name of former prime ministers.
"I changed the name of the housing schemes so that the PM Awas Yojna should continue under any Prime Minister. Earlier middlemen were active in the housing scheme... Now everything is done in a transparent manner. The housing scheme beneficiaries are now women.
"In less than five years, we have constructed more than 1.25 crore houses and in five years of the Madam-controlled government only 25 lakh houses were built," he said, referring to former Congress president Sonia Gandhi.