Where have Patna's Smart City, Namami Gange funds disappeared: Congress jabs BJP

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh posed several questions to Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of his rally in Pataliputra.
Congress General Secretary Jairam Ramesh
Congress General Secretary Jairam RameshFILE Photo | Parveen Negi, EPS

NEW DELHI: Hitting out at the BJP, the Congress on Saturday asked where Patna's Smart City and Namami Gange funds disappeared and why Patna University has been denied central university status.

Congress leader Jairam Ramesh posed several questions to Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of his rally in Pataliputra.

"Where have Patna's Smart City and Namami Gange funds disappeared? Will the Bihta airport ever be built? Why has the BJP failed to prevent yet another paper leak? Why has Patna University been denied central university status?" the Congress general secretary said in a post on X.

He said Patna witnessed large-scale waterlogging and flooding in 2019 and 2020 but funds received under the Smart City and the Namami Gange projects have still gone "grossly underutilised".

Six sewage treatment plants (STPs) and five new sewerage networks were sanctioned under these schemes but only four of the 11 projects have been completed, he said.

"According to a CAG report on the six plants under the Namami Gange project, 'None of the six STPs and their networks are completed in their entirety, even as the executing agency, Bihar Urban Infrastructure Development Corporation, was sanctioned almost the entire cost of the projects, amounting to Rs 3,288.69 crore'," Ramesh said.

Currently, all of Patna's STPs combined have the capacity to treat only half of the city's daily discharge, he said.

As a result, a significant portion of sewage, domestic and biomedical waste is being released directly into the Ganga, he claimed.

He asked why these crucial infrastructure projects are lagging so far behind schedule.

"Can the prime minister tell us why public money has been so poorly utilised?" Ramesh said.

He further said eight years after it was approved in 2016, there is no sign that the Bihta airport will ever be built.

States such as Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh have received plenty of airports under the Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik (UDAN) scheme but Bihar has been left behind, he claimed.

"Phase I of construction was supposed to begin in October 2017 and be completed in two years' time. The timeline was then revised for construction to start in 2018 and be completed by 2021. Although the state government transferred the required land to the centre by 2018, only a boundary wall has been built till date," the Congress leader said.

"Can the prime minister explain why Bihar has been neglected under the UDAN scheme? Will the Bihta airport ever be built?" he asked.

Ramesh also raised the issue of examination paper leaks and said it was found this month that the NEET-UG question paper was leaked to 20 aspirants in Patna.

"Under the Modi sarkar, paper leaks have become a regular occurrence. Neighbouring Uttar Pradesh has witnessed more than 40 paper leaks under BJP rule and Gujarat has emerged as the paper leak capital, from where leaks are orchestrated across the country," he said.

Each paper leak takes a massive emotional toll on thousands, if not lakhs of young aspirants who prepare tirelessly for government exams, he said.

"Why have paper leaks been so rampant under the Modi sarkar? Is the BJP doing anything to ensure that aspirants never have to face such injustice again?" Ramesh asked.

The Congress leader also claimed that in 2017, Modi "flat-out denied" Nitish Kumar's request to give central university status to Patna University.

This has been a long-standing demand of the people of Bihar because students from modest backgrounds are currently forced to leave the state for quality higher education, he said.

"Many poor families are not able to afford this either. Therefore, central university status for Patna University would change the lives of thousands of students.

Why, then, has Prime Minister Modi so callously ignored the plight of Bihar's youth?" Ramesh asked and urged the prime minister to break his "silence" on these issues.

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