Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said the government is committed to the development of drought-prone Bundelkhand region and around 500 projects worth over Rs 10,000 crore have been sanctioned for improving water availability.
Observing that the benefit of water from three rivers, Ken, Betwa and Yamuna, was not reaching the Bundelkhand region, Modi said the proposed Ken-Betwa river linking project has the potential to change the fortune of the area and the Centre is in discussion with both Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh on this issue.
He was addressing after the virtual inauguration of college and administration buildings of Jhansi-based Rani Lakshmi Bai Central Agricultural University. "Both the Centre and the UP government are committed towards development of Bundelkhand region and restore its historic identity and past glory," Modi said.
The prime minister mentioned that before the 2019 general polls, he had promised to improve water availability in the Bundelkhand region in the next five years and several initiatives have been taken in that regard.
"Due to their blessings, 'Har Ghar Jal Abhiyan' (Tap water to every rural household) is working at a fast pace. Construction of water bodies and laying of pipelines in all districts are underway. The government has already sanctioned over Rs 10,000 crore for 500 water projects for this purpose," he said. Of these, the work on projects worth nearly Rs 3,000 crore has commenced in the last two months.
"When these projects get completed, lakhs of families in this region will directly benefit," he said, adding that the government has also begun work on increasing the groundwater level in this region under groundwater management scheme.
Noting that the region was not getting the benefit of water despite three rivers, Modi said: "To change this situation, the Centre is working continuously. The Ken-Betwa River Link project has the potential to change the fortune of this region."
On this issue, the Centre is in discussion with two states. "I am sure, once the Bundelkhand region gets enough water, then life here will change fully," he added. Besides water projects, Modi said thousands of crores worth of projects are being implemented in this region, including Bundelkhand Expressway and Defence Corridor, that will create job opportunities.
"The day is not far, Jhansi and adjacent areas which were famous for valour will make India Aatmanirbhar (self-reliant) in defence security," he said. Stating that the region is known for "facing challenges" since the past, the prime minister said the people out here are bravely challenging the COVID-19 pandemic and even the government has made all efforts to minimise the hardships faced by the poor during this crisis.
The government is providing free ration, gas and depositing thousands of crores in women's Jan Dhan bank accounts across the country, including Bundelkhand region, he said. "Around 10 lakh poor women in Bundelkhand region have been provided with free gas cylinder. Deposited thousands of crores in lakhs of Jan Dhan accounts of women," he said and added that about Rs 700 crore has been spent so far under the Garib Kalyan Rojgar Abhiyan in Uttar Pradesh alone.
He said that lakhs of workers are getting jobs due to this initiative. Even many new ponds were being constructed and the old ones were being revived under this scheme, he added.