M A I N   N E W S

Mulayam unwilling, but funds flow for canal repair
Satish Misra
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 20
Finally farmers of central Uttar Pradesh, particularly those of districts of Unnao, Raebareilly, Hardoi and others can hope to irrigate their crops, thanks to clearance of Rs 105.2997 crore by the Planning Commission for reviving the tail-end of the Sarda canal which had been in utter neglect for over three decades.

Since Rai Bareilly is a VIP constituency, represented by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, the tail-end of the Sarda canal was being ignored by successive state governments, including by present Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav.

While farmers of the region, particularly of Rai Bareilly and Amethi, were seeking assurances from Ms Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi to get central funds for the canal, the UP Government was not keen to help the cause.

In a letter to the Ministry of Water Resources in New Delhi, dated January 2, 2005, a UP government official K. K. Sinha said that the state government do not need money for reviving the tail-end of the Sarda canal system as the desilting and repair of the system had already been undertaken with state funds.

Obviously, the state government official, under pressure from his political bosses, was opposing central funds to embarrass the Nehru- Gandhi family who were promising flow of water in the canals to their constituents.

But both Mrs Gandhi and Mr Gandhi were leaving no stone unturned to keep their promises and Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz visited the tail-end area of the Sarda canal in July this year.

Mr Soz, along with central and state officials, discovered that the tail-end of the canal required major repairs, renovation and strengthening of embankment.

Mr Soz directed his officials to expedite the process of sanctioning of funds and the result came within five months as a letter from Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, Gauri Chatterji, to UP Chief Secretary N C Bajpai says that the Planning Commission had cleared a sum of Rs 105,2997 crore.

The letter further asked the state government to approach the Ministry of Water Resources for AIBP funding of the project in the appropriate format at the earliest.

Whether the state government applies for release of funds quickly or not, would decide the fate of farmers in the central UP.



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