Having basked in envious glory for the past few decades, the Gandhi bastions of Rae Bareli and Amethi in Uttar Pradesh seem to have fallen on bad times after the ascendancy of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government at the centre.
With the union government red-flagging an ambitious mega food park project of Congress vice president and Amethi MP Rahul Gandhi, well informed official sources say, many other projects in the Gandhi pocket borough now either face paucity of funds or have simply no takers in the bureaucracy.
The Gandhi scion had laid the foundation stone of a major food processing unit in October 2013 in Jagdishpur that was to generate direct and indirect employment for more than 25,000 people, mostly locals and people from neighbouring areas. To be built for a whopping Rs.200 crore, the project, a source told IANS, had “crash-landed before take-off”.
To be built as the Shaktiman Food Park by the Aditya Birla group, it was to be given gas via the administered price mechanism route. While local legislator Radheshyam alleges “political vendetta”, officials in the food processing ministry say the “decision to do away with the project was based on threadbare feasibility”.
Officials point out that the requisite 50 acres land and the industrial use certificate were not given to the park and hence the inter-ministerial approval committee had decided to axe the project. The legislator, however, contested this, adding that the state government had given 72 acres of land for the project.
District Congress president Yogendra Mishra rued the development and said the park would have benefited the locals in a big way. An office-bearer of the State Industrial Development Association (SIDA), not wishing to be named, also viewed the development as a “setback for the region”. As it is, more than 350 big and small factories have closed down over the past two decades.
The mega park is not a solitary case, it appears. Other large projects slated for Amethi and Rae Bareli during the previous UPA regime too seem headed for a similar fate.
A 200-bed central hospital in Tiloi hangs in the balance after the land allocated for it was disapproved by a central team, and there is also no word on a minority varsity and Sainik school in Kauhar, for which the district administration had assured 50 acres of land.
The district administration, at the bidding of the UPA government, had allotted 120.74 acres for a National Automative Training and R&D Infrastructure Project (NATRIP) in Trisundi but this project too has seen very little or no progress. The Rail Neer (bottled water plant) project had got under way in Tikariya more than a year back but there are now very few takers in the IRCTC, which will market the product, for this.
The delays and non-release of funds for various projects have prompted Congress president and Rae Bareli MP Sonia Gandhi to write to the union government for expediting the projects. Gandhi had recently written to union Health Minister J.P. Nadda for releasing funds for a proposed AIIMS-styled institute in her constituency.
State BJP spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak denied any “deliberate move” by the union government and said that this question should rather be put to Rahul Gandhi.
“He should explain why he hastily proceeded with these projects when they were not viable. As far as the BJP is concerned, we believe in ‘sabka saath, sabka vikaas’ (we are with every one for development,” Pathak told IANS.
Sources point out that while there were no direct orders from the union government to scrap or shelve projects in the region, “bureaucrats know which side of the bread is buttered” and hence it was no wonder that in the next few years, the sun would set on most projects in what once was the epicenter of power!