Rs 800 crore stuck in UP poll muck

The Ganga river seems to be collecting muck from the mudslinging between the Uttar Pradesh government and the Centre. Politicking over the cleaning of the holy river is picking up pace as the 2017 Assembly elections draw closer. Nearly 185 projects worth Rs 800 crore related to Ganga cleaning have failed to take off with the four states through which the river flows—Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal—not ready to issue No Objection Certificates (NOCs) to the Centre.

To stake claim ahead of the election in Uttar Pradesh, the NDA government didn’t take the state on board and alone planned to launch 70 projects, such as construction of crematoriums and development of ghats worth Rs 300 crore.

“We had planned to get 70 projects launched by the PM this month. But now we are in a fix as the Uttar Pradesh government has denied us an NOC, which is mandatory for the launch,” an official in the  Ministry of Water Resources said.

According to sources in the ministry, Uttar Pradesh has told the Centre that the project planned by them in the state affects the federal structure of the polity.

“The Centre is trying to breach the federal structure of the Constitution by thrusting projects on us. There needs to be a discussion before proposals, but we were never asked about them,” an senior official of the Uttar Pradesh government said.

Worried over the delay, National Mission for Clean Ganga director Rajat Bhargava wrote to the states for entering into an agreement for implementing the project and that they will be made stakeholders.

While Ganga cleaning has been a bone of contention between Uttar Pradesh and the Centre, the latter is also getting lukewarm responses from Bihar, Uttarakhand and West Bengal. Except Jharkhand, other four states have non-BJP governments and it will not be easy for the NDA government to push projects without taking states on board.

PM Narendra Modi had announced the massive river cleaning project ‘Namami Gange’ in 2014, but in last two years, major projects have not taken off despite a total five-year allocation of Rs 20,000 crore in 2015.


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