Concerned over the poor 11 percent fund utilisation of the Rahul
Gandhi-driven Bundelkhand package worth Rs.7,000 crore, the
central government will review its performance Monday.
Following Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi's intervention,
the central government had sanctioned Rs.7,000 crore package two
years ago for development of the backward Bundelkhand region,
spread across Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
Even as politics hots up in the run up to the Uttar Pradesh
assembly elections in 2012, the package has assumed political
overtones with Rahul Ganhi accusing Chief Minister Mayawati for
the "mess" in its implementation.
Planning Commission member Mihir Shah, in charge of the package,
will review its performance Dec 12 with representatives of the
Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh governments.
"We are concerned about the implementation of the package. We want
greater involvement of locals in the process," Shah told IANS.
The region with a population of 21 million ranks among the least
developed regions in India.
According to a study conducted by NGO Action Aid, out of Rs.3,506 crore sanctioned for Uttar Pradesh, only 26 percent has been
released till June 2011. Out of this, just 42 percent is utilised
till June 2011. This is just 11 percent of the sanctioned budget,
said the NGO.
Of the Rs.3,760 crore sanctioned for Madhya Pradesh, the
percentage of funds utilised is almost similar at 11.22 percent,
according to the NGO.
The package was required as the region has been suffering from the
past eight years due to drought, starvation and debt which have
claimed 2,945 farmers' lives in the region. There have been 519
farmer suicides in the last five months alone, said the NGO.
The study further said over 75 percent of the rural households in
the region are indebted, and the average debt burden is assessed
to be over Rs.45,000 per family.
The NGO members said landless Dalits and tribal Sahariyas who have
small holdings have very little to gain from the package.
Exposing faulty implementation of the goat rearing scheme, used as
a drought mitigation measure in Bundelkhand, Matadin, a resident
of village Tori, Tikamgarh, in Madhya Pradesh, complained he was
given 11 goats by the animal husbandry department six months ago
but all the animals died within three months as they were sick.
"In the company of sick goats, five of my own goats also died. I
have no option but to work as a daily wager," Matadin told IANS
during a public hearing in the capital on the implementation of
the package on Dec 8.
(Amit Agnihotri can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)