Sonia enquires about water, crops, NREGS in Rae Bareli

May 14th, 2008 - 11:51 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi
By Rakesh Mohan Chaturvedi
Rae Bareli, May 14 (IANS) Congress president Sonia Gandhi, visiting her Lok Sabha constituency here Wednesday, enquired from the locals about the state of water supply, crops and the centrally-sponsored schemes. “She asked me what problems I was facing, and I told her I had not yet got a job card under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS),” said Vidyadevi, a vegetable vendor. A mother of six children, she was disillusioned after being turned away by the local authorities several times.

Gandhi visited the rural areas of her constituency after a period of five months and gave a patient hearing to the people. Her main concern was about the implementation of the NREGS, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s flagship programme.

“There are discrepancies here as well in implementation of the NREGS. But since it is her constituency it is enforced better as the officers have little option,” said Congress spokesperson Akhilesh Pratap Singh.

Gandhi’s other major concerns were water for irrigation and drinking and this season’s harvest. In Sorha village, she visited half-dry ponds and asked farmers whether they had enough water to irrigate their fields in the coming summers.

“She had issued funds for supply of irrigation water, but the Uttar Pradesh government has not allowed it to reach the farmers,” said Rahul Dev, a local Congress leader. Some farmers corroborated this and said the water supply started in the winters had now dried up.

“I used to grow wheat (the crop which was harvested this month) up to 12 quintals, but now it has dropped to around seven quintals,” said Rajiv Kumar of Rahwa village.

The Congress-led UPA government announced a farm loan waiver of Rs 600 billion in the union budget for 2008-09, aimed at winning over farmers - who form a major chunk of the electorate - keeping in mind the Lok Sabha elections, scheduled for May 2009.

Braving the hot weather - the temperature here was around 42 degree Celsius - Gandhi made short stopovers to talk to crowds. She accepted garlands from locals, putting these on the hood of her Tata Safari, while talking to them.

The locals, who had been informed about her visit, gathered in scores at fixed spots to welcome her. Women and children comprised a sizable number, including some kids in school uniforms. Some locals carried petitions - quite a few neatly filed - to give to Gandhi.

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