BJP MP seeks Japanese intervention in Agra sewer project


Agra : Rama Shankar Katheria, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from Agra, suspects rampant corruption in a Rs.900 crore sewer line project in the city that is being funded by a Japanese bank. Unhappy with the clean chit given by district authorities, he has now written to the Japan government, seeking its intervention.

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Katheria has levelled charges of bungling and low quality of construction against Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam officials in the laying of the sewer line, which has been financed by the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC).

In July, the MP had written to Divisional Commissioner Radha S. Chauhan, who referred the matter to District Magistrate Mritunjaya Prasad, who in turn instructed the chief development officer to inquire into the matter. After investigations, Jal Nigam officials said there were no irregularities in the project and that work was proceeding according to plan.

Katheria, however, was not satisfied with the progress of the Yamuna Action Plan under which the sewer line network is being laid. He has now written to the Japanese government to set up a high-level committee to inquire into the anomalies in the execution of the project.

He also wrote a letter to the Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar. In his letter, the MP has levelled charges of corruption and poor quality of construction in the sewer line project and demanded prompt remedial measures.

But Katheria taking the matter to Japanese authorities has upset politician here, with some even calling it an “anti-national act”.

“It is an anti-national act and is violative of India’s sovereignty. Whether a member of parliament should have done this is a question the house has to decide,” said Chandra Pal, former principal secretary to Uttar Pradesh government.

“So many channels and forums were available, including his own party, where this issue could have been raised. But how can you invite a foreign power to investigate and set up a committee?” he asked.

Chandra Pal had contested the last election against Katheria and lost.

But there are others in the city who support Katheria for having directly addressed the problem.

“When all local channels become unresponsive and refuse to take a pro-people stance, one has to explore other avenues to protest,” said eco-activist Ravi Singh, who feels Katheria has done the right thing.

“In the past two decades, in the name of fighting pollution to save the Taj Mahal, thousands of crores of rupees have been pumped into various schemes, but the result is a big cipher, as anyone can see,” he said.