Seeking to find a foothold in the political labyrinth of UP, the Congress-led UPA dispensation is on a trip to woo farmers by resolving their water woes.
Resolution of a 20-year-old dispute to revive the Sharda water canal, feeding large tracts of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi's Rai Bareilly constituency, has led to the water resources ministry drawing plans to focus on all such lower riparian irrigation projects in disuse due to long-standing disputes.
Significantly, repair of the Sharda Sahayak feeder canal network in Rai Bareilly had been hanging fire for the last two decades due to conflicting Centre-state political stances. The canal network was first inaugurated by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1969. Subsequently, people in the lower riparian areas suffered due to diversion of water upstream. The revived project will irrigate 306,055 hectares of land in the region.
The revival of the project was a fall out of intense discussions between the ministry and successive UP governments. The matter was resolved when former chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, prodded by Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz's, suggested that the MPLAD fund should be used for the project. Soz visited the area last year for an on-the-spot survey. Later, the Expansion Renovation and Modernisation project started with the Centre bearing 25 per cent of the Rs 105 crore.
On the ministry's immediate focus are the Madhya Ganga and the entire Sharda Sahayak network of canals which benefits about 30 districts of UP.