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Monday, Nov 18, 2019

‘Aonla’ belt’s promotion under ODOPyet to bear fruits, say locals

cities Updated: Oct 18, 2019 22:40 IST
Kenneth John
Kenneth John
Hindustantimes
         

Nearly 30 months after the 2017 assembly elections, the state’s ‘Aonla’ belt of Pratapgarh is again set to witness elections on its Sadar assembly seat.

The by-poll has been necessitated as sitting BJP MLA Sangam Lal Gupta got elected as Pratpagarh MP in 2019 general elections.

However, the issues that were in focus in 2017, more or less remain the same, this time too.

For example, the One District, One Product (ODOP) scheme which picked up ‘Aonla’ as representative of the place has very little to elaborate on its promotion.

Farmers engaged in ‘Aonla’ cultivation have nothing to cheer about, locals claim.

UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath, who visited Pratapgarh twice in two months, left nothing to chance in wooing electorate with his government’s achievements in promoting the place as ‘Aonla’ belt through ODOP scheme.

He claimed the farmers would soon begin to receive the benefits of the scheme.

Like in 2017, promises of a better healthcare infrastructure, including the setting up of a medical college, in the district were also made.

On September 7, Yogi Adityanath had laid the foundation stone of 165 development projects worth Rs 218 crore.

However, the ground reality as per farmers engaged in ‘Aonla’ farming paint a different picture.

“Nothing except promises has been made by this government so far. Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Pratapgarh during 2019 Lok Sabha campaigning had made promises just like he did in 2014. He repeated his assurance that farmers engaged in Aonla farming would be greatly benefitted through ODOP scheme by getting them suitable price and market for their produce and setting up of new food processing units. But we are still awaiting the promised benefits,” said Atendra Singh, a farmer of Chilbila village and president of Aonla Growers Association.

He claimed the strength of farmers engaged in its farming had declined significantly in past five to six years largely due to lack of government support for its marketing. This, in turn, had caused decline in total land area used for Aonla cultivation in district, he added.

“Around five to six years back, ‘Aonla’ crop was grown in around 10,000 hectare land area which has now shrunk to nearly half of it. Gradually as per rough estimates the number of families engaged in cultivation of the fruit has also reduced significantly. If the government is serious in promoting Aonla products, at least one processing unit should have been set up by now in over past over two years of BJP rule in state,” he said.

Ramesh Tiwari, another farmer and resident of Balipur village in Sadar tehsil of the district claimed that the chief minister had visited Pratapgarh district on five different occasions in past two-and-half years but his promises have failed to bear fruit.

“The condition of roads in most parts of the district is bad. Every time Yogi arrives, his cavalcade is not taken to GIC ground for public meeting through the normal route due to dilapidated condition of road but instead it is made to pass through residential premises of district Superintendent of Police where the road is smooth. Even PM Modi promised processing industries for Aonla byproducts but not a single unit has been set up till date,” he added.

Munna Pandey, a shop owner and resident of Ganaidi village in Raniganj tehsil said while several ministers, including cabinet minister Swami Prasad Maurya, Moti Singh, etc, come from here, but the district is still where it was 10 years ago.

“The roads are in a dilapidated state, especially in my Raniganj tehsil. Construction on the promised medical college started six months back and will take at least two more years to complete even though the CM claims that it will start functioning from next year itself. The CM laid foundation stone of 165 projects last month but when will they take shape is anyone’s guess,” he said.

According to Bhairav Singh, a resident of Sadar tehsil, the failed Auto Tractors Limited (ATL), dream project of Raja Dinesh Singh of Kalakankar estate, met a tragic end to wrong political decisions. “After 12 glorious years of remaining in operations since its inception in 1978, the factory spread in 120 acre land suddenly witnessed abrupt closure in 1990 throwing around 2000 employees out of job. The then UP chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav ordered its sale to a private firm, which in turn sold the factory assets in parts.

Kapil Bhan, another area resident, said every time during elections politicians promised revival of the factory but never turned up post elections.