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Under Modi govt, implementation of Bundelkhand package plagued by ‘rampant corruption’: Cong

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NEW DELHI, May 17: The Congress on Friday alleged that under the Modi government, the implementation of the ‘Bundelkhand Package’ has been plagued by “rampant corruption” and claimed that after spending thousands of crores through this, the area of uncultivable fallow land in the region had increased.

Congress general secretary Jairam Ramesh posed questions to Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of his rally in Hamirpur.

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“Why did the Bundelkhand Expressway develop potholes just 5 days after inauguration? Why has unirrigated area in Bundelkhand increased under BJP rule? Why is the Modi Sarkar so keen on the ill-conceived Ken-Betwa Link?” Ramesh said in a post on X.

Elaborating on what he said were “jumla details”, the Congress leader said that on July 16, the PM inaugurated the Rs 15,000 crore Bundelkhand Expressway and all it took was five days of rain for the brand new highway to develop massive potholes.

“These potholes were quickly fixed to cover up the damage but a year later, potholes appeared again in Jalaun. Eight months ago, new potholes appeared next to Etawah. Why was the tender awarded to a contractor who provided such appallingly poor quality work? Is this another project under the outgoing PM’s favorite ‘Chanda Do, Dhanda Lo’ scheme?” Ramesh said.

In 2009, the UPA government had approved a special package, the Bundelkhand Package, to address frequent droughts in the region, he said.

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“Under the Modi Sarkar, the implementation of the package has been plagued by rampant corruption and poor planning. Even after spending thousands of crores through this package, the area of uncultivable fallow land in the Bundelkhand region had increased,” Ramesh said.

The seven districts of Bundelkhand in Uttar Pradesh had 1.86 lakh hectares of uncultivable fallow land in 2009-10, which increased to 2.61 lakh hectares in 2017-18, and in Madhya Pradesh, the area was 1.67 lakh hectares in 2009-10 which increased to 2.07 lakh hectares in 2017-18, he said.

“A local journalist noted that ‘the government first destroys natural water resources through its policies and then builds dams in the name of development, which is a methodology antagonistic to nature’. The Modi Sarkar has also done little to help farmers switch to less water-intensive crops,” Ramesh said.

Why have the “outgoing PM” and the BJP not only failed to address Bundelkhand’s water woes but also left the situation worse off than when they came to power, he asked.

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Ramesh further said it is unclear whether the Ken-Betwa Link, India’s first ever river-linking project, will have any impact on droughts in Bundelkhand.

“It is claimed that this 44,000 crore project will help transfer ‘surplus’ water from the Ken basin in MP to the Betwa basin bordering Uttar Pradesh. While this sounds great in theory, experts have repeatedly raised questions about the viability of the ‘44,000 crore extravaganza’,” he said.

To begin with, they have questioned the dubious concept of “surplus” and “deficit” basins, as data shows that both basins received similar amounts of rainfall in the last four years, he said.

“River-interlinking was first conceptualised by a British general in the 19th century but latest studies show that such projects can have wide-ranging implications on broader hydrological cycles. The government’s unwillingness to make much data on the project public has also raised suspicions,” Ramesh said.

It appears that the BJP government wants to submerge 9,000 hectares of land, including 25 villages and 6,000 hectares of the Panna Tiger Reserve, to build a megaproject that might not work, he said.

“The only people who can be sure to gain from this project are those who will be awarded the contracts! Can the outgoing PM explain why this project has been rushed through without thorough technical and legal diligence?” Ramesh said and asked the prime minister to break his “silence” on such issues.

Earlier, the Congress leader hit out at the BJP for “scrapping” the Backward Region Grant Fund in 2015 and asked Prime Minister Narendra Modi to explain why his government “callously” did away with the “forward-thinking” scheme of the UPA.

The Congress general secretary posed questions in the morning to the prime minister ahead of his rallies in Uttar Pradesh on Friday.

“Why has the Modi Sarkar scrapped the Backward Regions Grant Fund? Why has the BJP neglected UP’s mentha farmers? Why has CM Yogi repeatedly lied about reopening the Budhwal Sugar Mill?” Ramesh said.

The Congress leader said the Backward Region Grant Fund, aimed at uplifting the backward districts of India, was “callously scrapped” by the Modi government in 2015.

“This forward-thinking scheme was established by the UPA government in 2006 and by 2013, Uttar Pradesh’s backward districts had received benefits worth Rs 4000 crore from it,” he said.

Ramesh pointed out that in 2015, the Modi government discontinued separate budgetary allocations for this scheme, transferring it to states and slashing annual funding to the Rajiv Gandhi Panchayat Sashaktikaran Abhiyan (RGPSA) from Rs 1,006 crore to just Rs 60 crore.

“This came as a significant blow to districts like Fatehpur that received crucial development funds from the scheme. Can the outgoing PM explain why his government so callously scrapped the Backward Region Grant Fund?” Ramesh said in a post on X. (PTI)






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