Latur district, former Chief Minister and Union Minister of Heavy Industries Vilasrao Deshmukh’s fiefdom, will no longer be ignored.
The district lost out on government grants and new projects in the past two years because of Vilasrao’s political sparring with his successor Ashok Chavan.
After incessant political pressure from the former chief minister and his first-time legislator son Amit Deshmukh, Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said on Monday that development works in Latur district would be put on fast track.
The assurance came when Amit and five local legislators deliberated with Chavan at the state guest house Sahyadri. Sources in the government said Vilasrao had approved projects worth Rs 2,500 crore since 2006-07.
It was during Vilasrao’s regime that Latur city and the rest of the district transformed into a development hub. About Rs 900 crore was allotted during Vilasrao’s tenure.
Funds dried up after he had to quit office in the wake of 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai in 2008.
“Money was not an issue when Vilasrao was in power. He would openly say that it was natural for him to give as much (money) to Latur. But the money flow stopped ever since Chavan came to power,” said a Mantralaya officer requesting anonymity.
Amit told Hindustan Times that the meeting was satisfactory.
“The district will get about Rs 1,000 crore over the next few years in time-bound budgetary allocations. We did not ask for new grants but insisted on getting the amount that was approved long before.”
Amit said the lack of funds had been affecting irrigation projects, road construction, agriculture and education. “We want to build a new government hospital and hostel for medical students. We also need to build a collector’s office and other government offices.”
The neighbouring districts of Latur and Nanded, which is Chavan’s hometown, are engaged in fierce fights over shifting of government offices. In his time, Vilasrao had decided to carve out a new revenue division with its headquarters in Latur. Chavan changed the plan immediately after taking over the CM’s office. The Deshmukh camp protested the move and the matter in sub judice now.
The two leaders are lobbying for their supporters who aspire to become state and Mumbai unit Congress chiefs. In addition to this, Vilasrao wants the high command to make his son Amit chief of the state youth Congress.