Hype and hyperbole all around. This report card looks at facts and figures from the government of Gujarat’s own figures and those gleaned through RTIs. In as many diverse fields as I could find. So let us go over these and come to sensible conclusions, beyond the mesmerizing branding.
Agriculture: While agricultural growth has gone up, food grain production has come down significantly, from 82 lakh tonnes in 2007-8 to 56 lakh tonnes in 2009-10. Further, this year, the budget meant for encouraging farmers to grow food grains has been cut by 97%.
21 lakh farmers have lost their top soil to floods and less than 10% have received any compensation. Farmers who have spent money digging tube wells but have no electricity are being asked to cough up nearly Rs 1 lakh for electric poles. Close to 500 farmers commit suicide due to economic distress every year.
Education: Dozens of primary municipal schools are being shut down causing huge distress to the poor. 58% of children drop out of school. For the middle class parent in a city, school education is a major financial drain, costs having gone up from about Rs 33000 five years ago to nearly Rs 1 lakh today. Sex education has been banned. 80000 children are engaged in BT cotton fields alone instead of being in school.
Nutrition: Close to 46% of all our children, rich and poor, are malnourished or underweight, a deficiency that they will never make up. Close to 70% of our women are anaemic.
Investments: Only 7% of foreign direct investment coming to India comes to Gujarat. Less than 21% of the billions of rupees worth of MOUs signed during Vibrant Gujarat summits have translated into contracts, much less have fructified into factories. Even though industries are growing at a fast pace, employment is down,
Narmada: In Bavla, Sanand and Dholka, six years after canals were built there are cracks and breeches every few steps, and not a drop of water has flowed through them. 94% of Narmada waters go to industry leaving Saurashtra and Kutch without water for the most part.
Women: Crimes against women have gone up three fold and Ahmedabad city now has the dubious distinction of being the third worst city in the country in this respect. Over 10,000 women have been attacked over the last four years.
Industry and corruption: The Nano plant was given to the Tata’s allegedly at Rs 900 per sq. mtr when the price should hve been Rs 10,000. Loss to Gujarat Rs 33000 crores.
The Adanis were given the land for the Mundra fort at Rs 1 per sq mtr when the actual price was several thousand times higher. Loss to the exchequer not calculated. L & T also got land at this price.
Essar Steel was allowed to break Supreme Court directions and encroached CRZ and forest land. Navsari Agricultural University’s land was given away to a hotel group at throwaway prices causing a loss of Rs. 426 crores.
Sitting Minister Purshottam Solanki gave away fishing rights to lakes without tenders. The loss to the exchequer was more than Rs 40 crores. He remains a Minister.
Corruption cases of hundreds of thousand remain untouched – Rs 30,000 crores in the Sujalam Sufalam and other minor canal schemes; Rs. 109 crores in the Boribundh scam, to name just two. The Gujarat Vigilance Commission receives about 20000 corruption complaints each year encompassing every single department.
These are glimpses of a larger truth. Do we want to search it through? Or shall we continue being blinded by the sleight of hand?