The state Congress unit has decided to launch a village-level mass campaign in Amethi against the alleged political vendetta over development projects in the parliamentary constituency of party vice-president Rahul Gandhi. The move comes amid reports about the central government’s move to clear the shifting of the Rs 3,650-crore Jagdishpur Paper Mill project from Amethi to Ratnagiri in Maharashtra.
The project was originally conceived in 2008 but was stuck following delay in land acquisition. Just before 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the UPA government had sanctioned Rs 3,650 crore for setting up the project by the Hindustan Paper Corporation.
Speaking to The Indian Express on Thursday, Chandrakant Dubey, representative of Rahul Gandhi in Amethi, said, “We are preparing to start a village-to-village campaign here to make the locals aware of how the BJP government at the Centre is taking out its political vendetta on Amethi’s development projects one after another.”
He said the Amethi unit would spread awareness about the hinderances in development of the district through shifting of projects such as food park, paper mill and even IIIT centre.
“There was no delay from our end. Things were in process and the Centre should have pursued it with the state government instead of simply deciding to shift such a project,” added Dubey.
State president Nirmal Khatri alleged a political bonhomie between the BJP government at the Centre and the Samajwadi Party government at the state to take away projects from Amethi. “It seems like a well thought move by both the governments at the centre and the state because instead of pursuing the matter of land for a green field project of paper mill in Amethi, it is being used to shift the project,” Khatri said.
Claiming that the project would have generated employment for many people in the region, Khatri added that the Congress would oppose the move at all levels.
Meanwhile, the state government refuted allegations that hurdles in allotment of land delayed the paper mill project in Amethi. “Land was never an issue for the project. We had allotted 160 acres of land for the project and even intimated the central government about it several times, asking them to take its possession. There was a litigation on 100 acres that was earlier leased to Kamla Nehru Memorial Trust but as per the current status, there is no deterrent to allot that land to a third party,” Manoj Singh, Managing Director, Uttar Pradesh State Industrial Development Corporation, said.
“Moreover, we are also interested in the project because it would bring large scale employment — 4,000 direct and 30,000 indirect — not only in Amethi but in neighbouring six districts, and promote agro-forestry in the region. There is no hurdle to the project from our end,” he added.