(News) Rahul Gandhi's push works! - PM wrote to Planning Commission about Bundelkhand

Rahul is heard louder than others — PM moves on Bundelkhand
Amitav Ranjan

"The PM has already approved that the ministries concerned may expeditiously take forward the proposals to establish a 4,000 MW thermal power plant by NTPC at Lalitpur in the Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh; a Central agricultural university; take up proposals for repair, renovation and restoration of water bodies and artificial recharge of ground water through dug wells; to pursue the Ken Betwa Link Project; to consider an additional AIIMS-like institute; to establish a Sainik School; and, to set up a Central School in each of the 13 districts of the Bundelkhand region." says an August 13 letter from PM’s Principal Secretary T K A Nair to Planning Commission Secretary Sudha Pillai.

“The Ministry of Rural Development has also been asked to examine the issues regarding a fresh survey of BPL households in this area and to take forward proposals for water conservation through National Rural Employment Guarantee Act,” says Nair’s letter.

What was left out is an area-based tax exemption scheme like those available in Uttarakhand, North East, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu, and an autonomous Bundelkhand Development Authority under the Centre which has been resisted by non-Congress parties in Uttar Pradesh.

As for the centrepiece Drought Mitigation Package, “the Prime Minister has desired that in consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture and other ministries concerned, Planning Commission may bring appropriate proposals to the Cabinet urgently”, says Nair’s letter.

Incidentally, it was the Planning Commission and the Department of Expenditure that last year blocked the Rs 8,176-crore Drought Mitigation Package recommended by an inter-ministerial team led by National Rainfed Area Authority CEO J S Samra.

Based on the team’s field report, the Department of Agriculture and Cooperation circulated a Cabinet proposal last August seeking Rs 3,866 crore for Uttar Pradesh part of Bundelkhand and Rs 4,310 crore for Madhya Pradesh portion.

But that got stuck after the Planning Commission said that the different divisions had “not provided the amount that that could be earmarked from the ongoing schemes for taking up the proposed interventions”.

Despite three representations by Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi to PM and six times to Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar in 2008 and a letter from UP Chief Minister Mayawati last month urging the Centre to approve a special package for Bundelkhand based on the recommendations of the Samra Committee, no action was taken by the Centre.

But Rahul’s report — after an inspection of Bundelkhand area in April — and subsequent representation with signatures of MPs, MLAs and leaders from both Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh to the PM on July 28 has got the wheels moving.

Courtesy: Indian Express