Friday, Jan 27, 2023

8 years later, defunct mandis of a Rs 7.2k-cr Bundelkhand package

Constructed in 2014 under the then UPA government’s Bundelkhand Package, the mandi in Arjunpur has yet to become operational. And farmers still have few choices – Karwi, which is far away, or Rajapur, where the produce fetches a lesser price.

Uttar Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh latest news, Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, United Progressive Alliance, UPA, Bundelkhand, Chitrakoot assembly constituency, Bundelkhand Package, agriculture, Gramin Awasthapana Kendra, indian expressA mandi at Arjunpur in Bundelkhand. (Express Photo)

When an agricultural marking yard (mandi) was constructed in Arjunpur, Kalyan Prasad thought his difficulties would end soon. The mandi would ensure Kalyan, a farmer, no longer had to make those long journeys to sell his crop at Karwi, 30 kilometres away. Eight years later, however, the wait continues.

Constructed in 2014 under the then UPA (United Progressive Alliance) government’s Bundelkhand Package, the mandi in Arjunpur has yet to become operational. And farmers such as Kalyan still have few choices – Karwi, which is far away, or Rajapur, which is nearby but where the produce fetches a lesser price from arhatiyas (commission agents).

With elections underway, hopes are rising again. Kalyan, who grows mustard, gram, masur and wheat on his 45 bigha land, tells The Indian Express “whoever is elected” from his constituency must ensure the mandi becomes operational.

The Chitrakoot assembly constituency, under which Kalyan’s village falls, is scheduled for polls in the fifth phase of Uttar Pradesh elections on Sunday.

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Under the Rs 7,266 crore Bundelkhand Package, seven specialized mandi yards each were envisaged at the district headquarters of seven districts of the state’s Bundelkhand region. This was besides the 168 Gramin Awasthapana Kendra (Rural Infrastructure Nuclei) at sub-district levels, with storage godowns with a capacity of 500 metric tonnes along with auction platforms, shops and farmers facilitation centers.

Vijay Bahadur Singh, a former Member of Parliament from neighbouring Hamirpur who was part of the panel set up by the then Planning Commission to monitor the implementation of the Bundelkhand Package, calls the defunct mandis “an example of unplanned spending of government money”.

“There are 5-6 mandis between Banda and Mahoba. These are spread over an area between 0.5 and 1 square kilometre. But transaction worth Rs 100 has not taken place. Big trees have grown. In some time, these would become a forest where animals would roam around,” Singh tells The Indian Express.

“They did not plan properly,” he says.


Congress leader and former Union Minister of State Pradeep Jain Aditya blames the state government.

“The state government did not appoint officers and staff at these mandis because it feels that the credit for these mandis will go to the UPA government,” says Jain, who is also a former Member of Parliament from Jhansi constituency.

“Mandiyon me bhusa bhara, sharab pi jati hai, vahan par bhed-barkri aur gay bhains bandhi rahti hai… esa lagat hai ye log in mandiyon ko bech denge.(Mandis are being used illegally to store fodder, to drink liquor and to keep goats, sheep, cattle and buffaloes. It seems they will sell these mandis),” Jain says, adding that his party has even protested to demand operationalization of the mandis.


Until that happens, many, like Kalyan, can only wait. A resident of nearby Gosainpur village, Ram Naresh also wants the mandi to be operational as soon as possible.

“I was hired as a watchman by the contractor when the construction work started here. I was paid Rs 1,500 per month for the initial few months and was told that once the mandi becomes operational, I will get a regular job. However, neither the mandi became operational, nor I am getting my monthly salary,” he says.

For now, Ram Naresh says he has become a tailor, having set-up his sewing machine right in front of the mandi office at Arjunpur.

“I have to earn my livelihood.”

First published on: 27-02-2022 at 02:50 IST
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