The Union Cabinet has approved a special package worth Rs 7,266 crore for the Bundelkhand region, comprising parts of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. The aim is to mitigate the effects of drought in seven districts of UP and six districts of MP. The project is spread over a three-year period.
A portion of the proposed funding -- to the tune of Rs 3,450 crore -- will be borne by the central government. Another part of the cost will be met by drawing resources from ongoing central programmes in these two states. Nodal agencies like the National Rainfed Area Authority, the Planning Commission and state chief secretaries will monitor the project's progress. The Cabinet has also approved the re-inclusion of cotton seed as an essential commodity for a period of six months under the Essential Commodities Act, 1955.
Cotton seed had been deleted from the Act in 2007. Meanwhile, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, which also had its meeting today, has approved the revised norms to be followed in the running of the National Programme for Mid-Day Meals in schools.
Agencies add: While Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi's plans for development of Bundelkhand today received the nod of the government with the announcing of the special package for development of the drought-hit region, the government desisted from creating a special authority for the purpose as had been sought by Gandhi, apparently keeping in view the sensitivities of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh governments.
Asked about Rahul's demand for creation of a special authority, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Ambika Soni said: "The question of authority probably is not being felt since both the states have been authorised to decide the areas for development."
She was referring to the monitoring group that would be and co-chaired by Planning Commission members in-charge of UP and MP and include chief secretaries of the two states.