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Politicans Squabble over Backward Region Grant Fund

Written by: Staff
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New Delhi, Aug 9 (UNI) A major initiative of the UPA government- the Backward Region Grant Fund-- which has been a subject of much dispute among top politicans-- is all set to see the light of the day having been slated for Cabinet clearence tomorrow.

Informed sources say the proposal will steal the thunder from the NDA government which had launched it under the banner 'Rashtriya Sam Vikas Yojna', a flagship programme of the previous government.

The Fund had got embroiled in one controversy after another for the last 18 months because of squabbling among members of the ruling alliance.

During a previous Cabinet meeting about three months back, the proposal had to be referred to a Group of Ministers(GoM) following strong protests from Minister for Rural Development Raghuvansh Prasad Singh over districts included in the list for funding under the programme.

The sources said his major concern were that districts from Bihar were being ignored in the 200 districts for funding under the programme and lack of commitment about the extension of the package to the end of the Eleventh Plan(2007-11). It was to be in operation till the end of the Tenth Plan.

According to sources in the Planning Commission the Plan Panel has done an internal exercise on the likely political beneficiaries of the programme and it was concluded the bulk of the constituencies fall under the districts that are at present represented by Members of Parliament from the UPA alliance.

The sources said the GoM, headed by Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, has agreed to extend the benefits of the programme to 50 more districts and would include 33 districts from Bihar.

It has also been decided that the Bihar package, under which the State gets Rs 1,000 crore, would be extended for five more years, while the Kalahandi, Bolangir, Koraput(KBK) package--the hunger struck districts-- would be dropped at the end of the tenth Plan.

The GoM has ignored the request of Orissa Chief Minister Navin Patnaik that more districts prone to hunger and poverty be included in th KBK package and the project be extended for another five years.

Sources indicate that RJD, which is a UPA alliance partner, has been able to manage major benefits in the final package--the expanded RSVY.

UNI GS YA RN1921

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