Uttar Pradesh (UP) Chief Minister (CM) Yogi Adityanath turned 50 on (5 June. In the last five years, he proved himself as an able administrator.
Encounters and expressways
As the CM of India's most populous state with a population equaling a large country like Brazil, his rule marked a radical change in two aspects: law and order and infrastructure creation.
Talking of infrastructure, the achievement of the CM Adityanath-led government is just not about building infrastructure projects, but it is also about constructing them at an unprecedented scale and incredible speed.
Projects at an unprecedented scale
Under CM Yogi's rule, Uttar Pradesh has recorded massive improvement in connectivity, with both the union and state governments planning and completing enormous infrastructure projects.
In 2017 when Yogi Adityanath took the reins as CM, Uttar Pradesh had just two expressways in function, i.e. Yamuna expressway connecting Noida with Agra and the Agra - Lucknow expressway.
But today, after the first term of CM Yogi, Uttar Pradesh is home to both India's longest operational and under construction expressways, namely Purvanchal Expressway and Ganga Expressway project (including its second phase plan).
The 340 km long Purvanchal Expressway was opened for traffic after Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated it in November 2021. Besides the Purvanchal expressway, the Yogi government has started working on three other expressway projects, the 296 km long Bundelkhand Expressway, 91 km long Gorakhpur link expressway and 594 km long Ganga expressway.
While Bundelkhand Expressway is likely to be inaugurated in the first week of July this year, the Gorakhpur link expressway reached the 45 per cent completion stage. Work on the Ganga expressway is expected to begin soon, with contracts issued to Adani Enterprises Limited and IRB Infrastructure Developers Limited.
It must be noted that the expressways mentioned above are projects of the state government, and the expressway projects involving the union government, like the Delhi-Meerut expressway, which was completed in Yogi's first term, are not included in the list.
Thus, Yogi's government has built or planned an expressway network of over 1,350 km. When all these expressways become operational, almost every second district of the state will have an expressway passing through it.
Under CM Yogi's rule, metro rail too has seen rapid progress as the state government completed the Kanpur metro and is working on expanding the services to Agra, Gorakhpur, Varanasi, Meerut, Bareilly, Jhansi and Prayagraj. The project is nearing completion in Agra.
Noida international airport at Jewar, redevelopment of Hindu holy cities like Ayodhya and Varanasi, construction of social infrastructure facilities like hospitals in every district and new universities throughout the state are other infrastructure highlights under Yogi raj.
The speed of implementation
In a democracy like India with low per capita income, the elected governments often find less incentive to execute infrastructure projects as its benefits are accrued in the long term and involve huge expenditure.
Further, cost overruns of infrastructure projects by delays in their execution dampen the political will to take them up. Thus timely completion of infrastructure projects at a fast pace of implementation is significant.
Besides taking up infrastructure projects on a giant scale, CM Yogi Adityanth can also be credited for their speedy execution.
For example, despite two rounds of Covid-19 induced restrictions in March-September of 2020 and April-June of 2021, the UP government brought the Kanpur metro project to the inauguration phase from the commencement of project works within two years.
Similarly, Bundelkhand Expressway reached overall progress of over 95 per cent and is expected to be inaugurated next month, six months before the January 2023 completion target. Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for constructing this expressway on 29 February 2020.
The UP government has prioritised the early completion of infrastructure projects through incentives and penalties.
Recently, UP's industrial development minister Nand Gopal Gupta said that a fine of Rs 10 lakh per day would be levied on the developer of the upcoming Noida International Airport if there is a delay in completing the project.
Also, the state government decided to pay Rs 180 crore as a bonus to contractors for completing the 341 km-long Purvanchal Expressway 150 days early from the scheduled completion date.
Domino effect of Yogi's Infra push
After economic reforms in 1991 and the growing prosperity in our country, there is increasing competition among both cities and states in attracting new investments and creating job opportunities.
This competition among elected governments in states has expanded CM Yogi's infrastructure push, particularly expressway projects, to other states.
For example, after the inauguration of the Purvanchal expressway that connects Lucknow with the UP-Bihar border, Bihar, which is a neighbouring state of UP, along with the union government, has unveiled plans to develop four expressways in the state, namely the Gorakhpur-Siliguri expressway via northern Bihar, Amas to Darbhanga (via Patna) expressway, another expressway from Raxaul to Kolkata via Patna and the 350-kilometre Buxar-Bhagalpur expressway (an extension to UP's Purvanchal expressway.
Double engine government, cooperation with the centre
After the 2019 elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave special importance to the idea of 'double engine sarkar,' noting the benefits of having the same/friendly governments at the centre and state.
It is no exaggeration to say that the CM Yogi led government in UP is an embodiment of this idea.
The union government is implementing numerous infrastructure projects in UP like Delhi - Meerut Expressway, Delhi - Dehradun expressway and Delhi - Meerut RRTS (regional rapid transit system).
State governments have a crucial role in the projects planned and executed by the centre, particularly in land acquisition projects.
The slow pace and delays in completion targets of the Mumbai - Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail (MAHSR) project due to land acquisition problems in Maharashtra indicates the importance of the proactiveness of the state governments.
Though the union government is implementing many infrastructure projects in UP, it has never complained about non-cooperation from the state. In fact, PM Modi himself, union ministers and renowned industrialists too have appreciated the professionalism and speed of decision making shown by the UP state government under CM Yogi Aidtyanath.
On the whole, just as PM Modi created the 'Gujarat model' as the chief minister before 2014, CM Yogi too could make the Uttar Pradesh model with suraksha and samruddhi (security and prosperity) already being the poll planks in the recent UP assembly elections. In this emerging UP model, the scale and speed of infrastructure by CM Yogi are at the centre.
Accounting for almost one-fifth of India's population, the direction and pace of development in Uttar Pradesh have an overwhelming effect on the country's economic progress. With a CM like Yogi Adityanath, who has prioritised infrastructure creation and a PM like Modi, who understands the importance of having UP's support, the land of Ayodhya, Kashi and Mathura is in the right direction at an incredible pace.
As Kumar Mangalam Birla, chairman of the Aditya Birla Group, rightly said at the third UP investors summit, today's Uttar Pradesh can indeed determine India's tomorrow.
Gampa Sai Datta covers infrastructure issues for Swarajya and India Infra Hub. He is specialised in Urban Policy and Governance from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai.
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