CM’s ‘ghotala’ talk may further delay expresswayhttps://indianexpress.com/article/cities/lucknow/cms-ghotala-talk-may-further-delay-expressway/

CM’s ‘ghotala’ talk may further delay expressway

Akhilesh accused the previous government of rampant corruption and waste of money

Akhilesh accused the previous government of rampant corruption and waste of money

A passing reference to “expressway ghotala” by Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav in the Assembly today could signal further delay for the Greater Noida-Agra Yamuna Expressway project,which is complete but awaiting clearances from the state government.

Intervening in the debate on the governor’s address,Akhilesh spoke of the “expressway ghotala (scandal)” while talking of empty coffers left by the previous BSP government and how his government was having a hard time preparing the budget,which he will present in the Assembly tomorrow.

The Chief Minister accused the previous government of rampant corruption and waste of money. “We went on a cycle yatra in that region against corrupt practices of the previous government and forced land acquisition. There was this ghotala there,expressway ghotala,” he said. “I call it ghotala because when you do things to give extra profits to a certain company,then it is ghotala.”

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Akhilesh was referring to his cycle yatra from Greater Noida to Agra last year to express solidarity with farmers protesting against acquisition of their land. The only expressway there is the Yamuna Expressway.

Questions have been raised in the past about the land given to expressway developer Jaypee Group as a sweetener for building townships. At Tappal in Aligarh district,there was a violent agitation by farmers. Three farmers and a policemen were killed in a clash there in August 2010.

Sources in Jaypee Group said the project is ready and they had conveyed this to the government on May 8,but have not yet received “any signal”. The state government has to conduct a survey of the project,approve speed limits and the rates of toll tax before it can be thrown open to the public.

Another related issue is the right given to the developer to charge toll tax on the Noida-Greater Noida Expressway in return for its maintenance. The government was unwilling because at present no toll tax is charged on this expressway. The Jaypee Group had reportedly conveyed that it would not insist on this right and the matter can be sorted out later.

The government had also asked for completion of roadside facilities before the opening of the expressway. To this,the developer had conveyed that this would not take much time and could be easily done once a date of opening was fixed.

The 165-km-long Yamuna Expressway was conceived by the Mayawati government but,despite all attempts,could not be completed before the Assembly elections.

As the Chief Minister spoke,Congress MLA from Khurja Bansi Singh Pahadia said his leader Rahul Gandhi had also visited the region. Pahadia said that while cases against Tappal farmers had been withdrawn by the government,those against farmers of Bhatta Parsaul,including Manvir Teotia,were still pending. Akhilesh replied that the government was working to close pending “fake cases’’ against Bhatta Parsaul farmers as well.

‘BSP govt turned state into lab of corruption’

Blaming the previous BSP government for rampant corruption and spending huge sums of money on construction of parks and memorials at the cost of people’s welfare,Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav told the Assembly today that his government would give special focus on power generation besides improving the law and order situation.

Intervening in the debate on the governor’s address,Akhilesh spoke of former chief minister Mayawati installing her own statues,corruption in NRHM and other schemes,and a complete “disregard” of the dignity of democracy. The BSP had turned UP into a “laboratory of corruption”,he added.

The BSP said it had honored great personalities by installing their statues,but “is Mayawati great?” the Chief Minister asked. “She installed her statues which have four faces.”

On the BSP’s “disregard” for democracy,Akhilesh mentioned the burning of the house of state Congress chief Bahuguna Joshi in Lucknow. BJP leaders had also faced harsh treatment,he said. Akhilesh pointed out that he had been arrested at Lucknow airport because his party organised a protest,but most of those who were jailed by the BSP regime had now won the Assembly election.

The BSP benches were vacant when the chief minister spoke; its members had walked out saying the CM should speak only after all first-time MLAs had got a chance to speak.

Akhilesh noted that several members had expressed concern over the power crisis and problems in wheat procurement. He said that farmers he had met during his surprise visit to wheat procurement centres had asked him to make arrangements for satisfactory power supply.

The CM blamed the previous BSP government for not making proper arrangements for wheat procurement. For example,“order for gunny bags are placed six months in advance,but this was not done”,he said.

Akhilesh said the BSP government had signed nine MoUs for setting up power projects,but they all will expire on June 10 without anything actually happening on the ground.

But he promised his government will do all it can to improve the power situation. “We are going to make arrangements for tapping solar energy. There will be a separate feeder for supplying power to industries and farmers. Suggestions from members will be considered,” he said.

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The CM said his government’s decision to provide tablets and laptops to students passing Class X and XII will give them new confidence.