THE Smart City project of the NDA government will lead to migration of villagers and the Centre should instead develop “smart villages” to bridge the urban-rural divide, state urban development minister Azam Khan said Tuesday.
“Every city has its own limitations. If you create Smart Cities, it will lead to high influx from the villages. A better option is to develop smart villages. Funds should be diverted towards villages for constructing schools and improving power situation and other facilities so that people do not migrate,” Azam said, who led a delegation to Columbia to attend a World Bank seminar on Smart Cities, said.
“But, in developing villages, businessman such as Adani will not be benefitted,” Azam said.
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Stating that cities in Uttar Pradesh were already smart, he asked, “Tell me what is lacking in Lucknow, Allahabad or Varanasi?”
Azam also blamed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not sanctioning any fund for the development of Varanasi, which he represents in Parliament.
“Badshah has not given any funds for Varanasi. We have done all the development from our own resources. Even our annual grant in urban development and minority welfare department has been slashed, which has resulted in stopping of several projects,” he said.
He said the state government submitted a detailed project on how to keep Ganga clean by constructing sewage treatment plants. “However, the Centre said that it could not provide so much fund and is ready to give only five per cent of the projected cost…I would say that the Centre should either keep the funds or do the job itself. It will only bring discredit that the state was not doing anything even after being provided funds by the Centre,” the SP leader said taking a jibe at the Centre.
Over recent incident of fire at Sunni Central Waqf Board office, Azam claimed that an inquiry has been set up while police have arrested some persons after an FIR was lodged. When asked about documents related to the Ayodhya dispute, he said, “No such record was destroyed.”
Azam said after High Court’s verdict on the issue, all original documents had been transferred to the Supreme Court. “All the original records are in the custody of the court. There are only photocopies kept in the Waqf office,” he said, claiming that such rumours were only to create panic.
Azam also blamed Modi government for discontinuing the practice of respective State Haj Committee presidents visiting Saudi Arabia during Haj.
Azam also claimed that UP government has taken a tough stand on cow slaughter. “Modi government has been found lacking. If one is serious about stopping slaughter of animals, the big slaughter houses should be closed,” he said.
Azam also lamented that for past three-and-a-half-years no secretariat staff was working with him. “This is the benefit of government service. You cannot take action even if they flee leaving the office and files open,” he said.