(NEWS) Bundelkhand Begs For Statehood

Bundelkhand Begs For Statehood

“The misfortune of this region is that things have not changed much after Independence. Earlier, the British exploited this region, now it is our own government which is doing this,” says Pradeep Jain, Congress MLA from Jhansi. He mocks at the Rs20,000-crore package the Mayawati government has demanded from the Centre for Bundelkhand. “It’s just a gimmick,” he says. 

Such pessimism is not without reason. About 70 per cent of the five-crore population of the region is below the poverty line. The per capita income is Rs4,129 as against Rs13,262 for UP. In 2005-06, Bundelkhand got only 8.43 per cent of the plan outlay in the district sector which is crucially responsible for development. Industrial development is poor as the region lags acutely in both the key infrastructure areas of power and roads. The average availability of power is six to eight hours and the average road length per 100 sq km is 30 as compared to 49 for entire UP. 

One of the main factors that keeps development and investment at bay is that the region is dacoit-infested. “Dacoit king” Dadua may have been killed but there are dozens of small gangs which operate on both sides of the UP-MP border. 

“Large-scale migration and deaths due to hunger and poverty are the latest signals that things are only worsening,” says Vinod Chaturvedi, MLA from Orai (Jalaun). The burden of debt and repeated crop failure has led at least 400 farmers to commit suicide, he says. 

This is the state of a region which is a treasure trove of natural resources, including diamonds (in Panna in MP), gold mines, granite, copper, gypsum besides other minerals and valuable stones. According to a rough estimate, the jewellery industry in Panna itself generates government a revenue of about Rs1,400 crore. 

But ultimately, political considerations seem to have proved to be the bane of this area.The UP portion of Bundelkhand has a total population of about 1 crore, and only 21 of the total 403 seats in the Vidhan Sabha. 

“We have no bargaining power, politically, so our voice falls on deaf ears of whoever the ruler may be,” says Vivek Singh, MLA from Banda. 

For the first time, things now seem to be looking up. UP CM Mayawati has announced that she supports the demand for Bundelkhand’s statehood, a proposal for a new state is being debated in the state Assembly for the first time, and last but not the least, former MP CM Digvijay Singh, himself a votary of this separate state, is the Congress’ general secretary in-charge of UP. An incredible story of distress and hope continues in this land of the Bundela warriors.

Courtesy : DNAINDIA