Three Naxal-hit and poverty-ridden districts of Vindhyachal/Purvanchal in eastern UP may be clubbed with the seven backward districts of Bundelkhand, making them eligible for all the benefits that are made available to the water scarce region under the Centre’s Bundelkhand package and the state’s other schemes.
The state government has already put a demand to the Centre in this regard. The Centre is said to be favourably inclined to the idea.
The three Vindhyachal districts Mirzapur, Sonbhadra and Chandauli that have been sought to be clubbed are said to have geographic, topographical and economic conditions similar to ones that prevail in UP’s Bundelkhand region comprising seven districts.
“Making a presentation to the Niti Ayog in Delhi a few days back, we demanded that Mirzapur, Sonbhadra and Chandauli in Vindhyanchal should also be put on a par with the seven districts of Bundelkhand for the purpose of giving them benefits of the special Bundelkhand package,” revealed a senior official, claiming, “The Niti Ayog agreed in principle to the demand.”
During a meeting of chief ministers at Niti Ayog in Delhi on Sunday, chief minister Yogi Adityanath is also learnt to have demanded maximum fund release for Bundelkhand, incorporating the three districts of Vindhyanchal.
Sources said that various state government departments were asked to prepare projects for Bundelkhand as well as for the three districts of Vindhyanchal before the funds were sought from the Centre for the projects. The Centre will finance the schemes under the ongoing Bundelkhand package.
Mirzapur, Sonbhadra and Chandauli are among the state’s poorest and most backward districts, almost like Bundelkhand’s seven backward districts: Jhansi, Chitrakoot, Mahoba, Banda, Lalitpur, Hampirpur and Jalaun.
The Congress-led UPA government had in 2009 announced a special Rs7,466 crore Bundelkhand drought mitigation package for implementation of projects to minimize the effect of drought and backwardness in the Bundelkhand region of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
The allocation for UP was Rs 3606 crore initially.
An amount of Rs 1,005.51 crore was released as additional central assistance to UP during the Eleventh Plan and Rs 25515.50 crore budgetary support was earmarked during the 12th plan making the total allocation Rs 3,521.01 crore.
Sources said the Yogi Adityanath government also demanded release of funds that were allocated to various departments for Bundelkhand but the money lapsed as it could not be used due to model code of conduct that come into effect in the state in December.
“Incorporation of the three backward districts of Mirzapur, Sonbhadra and Chandauli in the Bundelkhand package will give political leverage to the BJP, which has been quite vocal about development of Purvanchal,” said sources.