The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bank threat jolts Mayavati

Lucknow, Aug. 29: A missive from the World Bank questioning chief minister Mayavati’s transfer spree and threatening to stop loans to the Uttar Pradesh government has thrown state officials in a tizzy.

While the issue dominated debate in the Assembly, state chief secretary D.S. Bagga today shot off a reconciliatory reply to World Bank country director Edwin R. Lim, promising the government would ensure that no World Bank project suffers due to “transfers”.

Lim had earlier warned Bagga that if the government continued to reshuffle its bureaucracy indiscriminately, the World Bank will withhold payment of the second instalment of Rs 1,100 crore to Uttar Pradesh for its Ambedkar Gram Vikas Yojna.

The World Bank has committed $377 million to the state for various projects. If it carries out the threat, this could jeopardise the Gram Vikas project — Mayavati’s favourite — and two other ongoing projects, officials said.

The Ambedkar Gram Vikas Yojana, which forms an integral part of Mayavati’s Dalit agenda, aims to provide several amenities to about 10,000 new Ambedkar villages every year. Its projected cost is believed to be around Rs 5,000 crore. Lim said: “Present regime should not henceforth support future schemes, including Dr Ambedkar Gram Yojna.”

It warned that the World Bank “would monitor future progress of the World Bank-aided projects and if no discernible progress was made, the WB would reconsider if support was to continue or not”.

The chief secretary’s reply clarifies that “some transfers had been effected due to a number of factors but the government had made sure that no World Bank-aided project suffered as a result of transfers”.

An official spokesman said the government’s stand was that the cutting edge remained the same and at the field level, officials who earlier worked on the projects continued to be the same while “there might be some changes at the CEO level”.

The spokesman did not agree with a suggestion that this was in complete variance with the government’s stand inside and outside Vidhan Sabha that transfers were the prerogative of the chief minister and no authority could question the judgement of the government.

Official explanations notwithstanding, World Bank’s threat figured in the Assembly where leader of Opposition Azam Khan criticised the role of the government and asked how it is going to fulfil the chief minister’s promise to improve conditions in 10,000 new Ambekdar villages every year.

Congress legislature party leader Pramod Tiwari, who asked Mayavati to make a statement on the situation before the House, also joined him.

In his letter to the state chief secretary, the World Bank’s country director had questioned mass-scale transfers effected by the state government since Mayavati took the reins. “World Bank is considering withdrawal of its loan and further funding if no checks are applied on frequent administrative reshuffle in the state,” Lim warned.

Bank officials are peeved that Mayavati had promised a World Bank team, which met the chief minister immediately after she came to power, that coordinators of the bank-aided projects would not be transferred. However, during the mass transfers, a number of such officials had been shifted.

Lim’s letter said: “Successful implementation of the ongoing projects would be necessary before World Bank could consider any fresh project for funding.”

It added that the World Bank expected the chief minister to rectify the situation by taking immediate remedial measures.

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