Banda: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Saturday accused the Mayawati government of being lax in using Central grants for development of Bundelkhand and ignoring the plight of Dalits and other weaker sections.

The Prime Minister, who was addressing a joint rally here in the most impoverished region, announced a package of sops which included Rs 200 crore drinking water scheme and setting up of an agricultural varsity in Jhansi.

He said the Mayawati government did not show desired activeness in spending the additional Central grants for the development of Bundelkhand which has become economically the most backward region of the country.

"As expected, the Uttar Pradesh government did not show activeness in spending the additional central grants. We hope the situation will improve," Singh told the public meeting.

The Prime Minister said proper attention was not paid to the region, running through UP and MP, with the result that it had degenerated into economically the most backward region of the country.

He said the pace of development in Bundelkhand had slowed down during non-Congress regimes in Uttar Pradesh and at the Centre.

Emphasising the need for better coordination among Central, UP and MP governments for successful implementation of the package, Singh said political differences should be kept aside for the development of Bundelkhand.

The Prime Minister said his government had approved a package of Rs 7266 crore for the region in 2009 and released additional grants of Rs 1800 crore in the last two fiscals for UP and MP.

More Central funds would be released after utilization of this amount, he said.

"Irrigation projects started during the Congress rule in the region are still incomplete. The handloom industry in Maurainpur is in bad shape. Spinning mills set up in Banda and Jhansi are closed. Besides, work on the glass factory, whose foundation was laid by Rajiv Gandhi could not be completed," the Prime Minister told the rally.

Announcing setting up of a Central Agricultural University in Jhansi, he said work had begun on introducing a bill in Parliament in this regard.

Singh said Rahul told him about the need for setting up such a university and an approval in this connection had been taken from the UP government.

He praised Rahul for playing an "important role" in preparation of the Bundelkhand package. He said a proposal of Rs 200 crore had also been made to ensure availability of potable water in the region.

On the Bundelkhand package, he said the Centre would pay heed to all suggestions made by anyone in this regard and "we want UP and MP governments to effectively implement it".

He said the NTPC was setting up a 3600 MW thermal plant in Barethi in MP with a view to meeting power demand of the Bundelkhand region.

Allocation of power from Central generating stations was also increased with the result that the region was now getting 500 MW electricity, including 300 MW in UP, he said.

Singh said seven Central schools had been sanctioned for the region and approval accorded for upgradation of the government medical college in Jhansi.

He said an advisory committee on Bundelkhand had been set up in the Planning Commission.

The committee was going to meet on May 20 and he had asked the Vice Chairman of the Planning Commission to apprise him about the proceedings, the Prime Minister said.

Maya ignoring Dalits: Rahul

Sharing the dais with the Prime Minister, Rahul Gandhi accused the Mayawati government of overlooking the interest of Dalits, backwards and poor segments of society. He also charged that the state government had failed to properly implement the MNREGA scheme.

"In UP, the major problems are being faced by Dalits, the backward and the poor….Wherever I went, there were discrepancies in the list BPL people and names of Dalits are not there," Rahul alleged.

He said, "for the last four to five years I have been travelling in UP and at most of the places Dalits, people belonging to the backward and poor segments said government was not doing anything.”

The Congress leader said that during his visit he had met a youth who said that his father died due to hunger. "The youth told me that out of shame he couldn’t tell this to anyone. It was then that I realized the pain of the people," he said.

"After MNREGA was launched, I came back and asked the people whether it was working or not, to which they replied in negative", Rahul said.

UP Govt refutes Congress accusation

Meanwhile, refuting Congress' accusation that the state government is lax in using Central funds for development of Bundelkhand, the ruling BSP in Lucknow on Saturday presented details of the works taken by it through its "limited resources" and alleged that the Centre ignored its request for a special economic package for the region.

"The Centre ignored our demands since 2007 for a special package of Rs 80,000 crore for the region and only last year announced a package of Rs 7,000 crore of which the state's share is around Rs 3,500 crores. Of the rest amount, Rs 1,600 crore will come in the next three years," UP Cabinet Secretary Shashank Shekhar Singh told a press conference here.

The state government has initiated various development schemes for the region. Aiming at increasing the green cover of the area, Rs 725 crore was spent to plant 10 crore saplings, the Cabinet Secretary said.

Besides, the region now get 18 to 19 hours of uninterrupted power supply due to efforts of the state government in setting up power plants there.

A scheme has been initiated for BPL families under which each family gets Rs 400 per month. As many as 14,00,50 families have been benefited from the scheme, Singh said.

The Cabinet Secretary said the development of Bundelkhand can be done only by making it a separate state.

JPN/Agencies