PM Modi waited to launch Agra project ahead of general election

The Modi Government could have launched the project in 2017. But officials claim it was delayed with an eye to the 2019 election

Biswajeet Banerjee

Prime Minister Narendra Modi did it again. He and BJP government in Uttar Pradesh took credit for ‘quenching the thirst of people of Agra’ by launching a project called Gangajal on Wednesday in Taj City, a project which was launched way back in 2005.

“As is his wont Prime Minister took credit for launching a scheme for which he has made no contribution. The scheme was launched when Mulayam Singh Yadav was Chief Minister but it got delayed due to cost escalation and failure of the then Central government to get foreign funds,” Samajwadi Party spokesman Rajendra Chaudhry told this reporter in Lucknow.

He said today that Modi and Yogi are patting their backs for providing drinking water to Agra. The Information and Publicity Department of the Uttar Pradesh government released a full page advertisements titled `Saaf Niyat Sahi Vikas’ claiming to have provided Gangajal to Agra. “If Niyat is saaf the BJP should give credit to Mulayam Singh ji who had conceived the idea,” he said.

Despite its vantage location on the banks of the river Yamuna, Agra was facing an acute water crisis. Agra needed around 400 million litres (MLD) per day of water everyday but the availability was of just 285 MLD. The water was supplied from twin sources of Sikandra water works (120 MLD) and Jeevani Mandi water works (165 MLD). High pollution in Yamuna river prevented UP Jal Nigam to use this river as a water source. Thus, to meet the water demand of the city Gangajal project was launched.

As per the project conceived on March 14, 2005 it was decided that around 150 cusecs (360 MLD) of water from Upper Ganga Canal in Bulandshahr would be routed to Agra via Mathura. A pipe was proposed to be laid along the 130 km route.

This is not the first time PM is taking credit for work his government has made no contribution to. On May 18, 2018 launched 11 km of Delhi-Meerut Expressway and claimed it was his government’s achievement. The Road Show of the PM was held just ahead of crucial by elections in UP

Initially the project was to cost ₹355.68 crore. The foreign funding in the form of Japan Bank of International Cooperation (JBIC) was arranged and an MoU was signed on December 2, 2005.

As the project got delayed the cost escalated to ₹2887.92 crore.

A senior official in the UP Jal Nigam, who co-ordinated with Gangajal Project officials in Agra said that the project was ready but the Yogi government wilfully delayed its launch. The project got the final clearance during the UPA’s tenure in government and funds were allocated too but when Modi government came in, it increased the length of the pipeline and changed the quality of pipe.

“Still by 2017 the project was ready but it was delayed apparently with an eye on the 2019 election”, the official said on condition of anonymity.

This is not the first time PM is taking credit for work his government has made no contribution to. On May 18, 2018 launched the 11 km of Delhi-Meerut Expressway and claimed it was his government’s achievement. The PM’s Road Show was also held just ahead of the crucial by-elections in UP.

On November 12, 2018 the PM also launched an inland waterways project in Varanasi with much fanfare. That is the only freight which was transported through the waterways till now. Since then it has been lying in a limbo.