Bundelkhand package: Blame game at Plan panel meet

The Centre has expressed concern over tardy implementation of Rs 7,266 crore Bundelkhand package.

New Delhi: The Centre on Friday expressed concern over tardy implementation of Rs 7,266 crore Bundelkhand package, while the BSP members of the advisory panel blamed the Union Government for delay in release of funds.

A meeting of the Advisory Committee, called by the Planning Commission to review the progress of the Bundelkhand package turned out to be a mud-slinging game among BSP, SP, BJP and Congress MPs belonging to the backward area, which falls in partly in Madhya Pradesh and partly in Uttar Pradesh.

"We have released the money from here (Centre) but that has not yet been utilised. May be, there has been a delay in the amount utilised or may be there are problems in finalising the plans," Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia said after the meeting.

Ahluwalia heads the Advisory Committee on Bundelkhand.

"The utilisation (of released funds) in Uttar Pradesh is 9 percent. We will find out what the problem is," he said.

Vijay Bahadur Singh, BSP MP from Hamirpur in Uttar Pradesh, said the Centre "should not politicise" the issue, adding there was delay in release of funds and it takes time
to implement development projects.

"It takes even six months to finalise the projects. This is not a shopping mall. These are long-term projects of 2-3 years. How can you build a Rs 400 crore dam in 11 months"?

However, he admitted that the Uttar Pradesh government received Rs 800 crore from the Centre for development works in the region.

Making an accusation that funds were siphoned off, the Samajwadi Party (SP) members sought a CBI enquiry into the allegations. "I am stating this openly. There should be a CBI investigation into this," RK Singh Patel, MP from Banda, said.

Minister of State for Rural Development Pradeep Kumar Jain, who is also Congress MP from Jhansi, trashed a report of National Rainfed Area Authority, which claimed that enough work has been done on watershed projects, sources said.

Later, talking to reporter, he said: "The reason for increasing suicides is the non-implementation of projects (by the state government)."

The Planning Commission also came in for criticism from both the SP and the BSP members of the advisory panel for poor monitoring of the Bundelkhand package which was approved by after intervention by Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi.

While MPs from different parties were involved in mud-slinging, they had a common grouse against the implementing authorities. They complained that the MPs were not involved in the project.


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