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Yogi govt in UP: Four-year report card ahead of the 2022 assembly polls

Ahead of 2022 UP assembly elections: How much has the Yogi Adityanath-led government pushed the needle for Uttar Pradesh in its four-year term? The chief minister has tried to stamp his authority on the state aggressively during his term, while running a large council of ministers at the same time. Compared to his predecessor Akhilesh Yadav, whose Samajwadi party ministry had 41 ministers, Adityanath has a larger one at 47. But while Yadav had to exercise six reshuffles during his tenure, the current chief minister has never once shuffled his pack. He has mostly relied on his team of officers to run his key projects, instead of depending on the ministers, despite having two deputy chief ministers. 

While the state would be the fifth largest in the world in terms of population, its people are still desperately poor. UP has the second lowest per capita income in India, just ahead of Bihar. The recently released Niti Aayog Sustainable Development Goal Index for 2020-21 clubs the state as a “performer”, a lower rank than those of front runners. In the club of 28 states, it ranks 25th. 

What have the hits and misses for this government been? 

Roads

The cornerstone of the infrastructure push for the state are the four expressway projects, the 340-km long Purvanchal Expressway, the 296-km Bundelkhand Expressway, the 91-km Gorakhpur Link Expressway, and the 628-km Ganga Expressway. The state government estimates they shall cost about Rs 80,000 crore and shall substantially upgrade the quality of connectivity in the state.

Of these, the one closest to completion is the Purvanchal Expressway, the costliest of them at Rs 23,000 crore. Because of the second wave of Covid, the main carriageway’s opening dates has been pushed back from June. In an interview with Business Standard, Awanish Kumar Awasthi, UP additional chief secretary, who is also the CEO of UP Expressway Industrial Development Authority, managing the projects there were no funds or labour constraints hobbling any of them.

The one next to come up should be the Bundelkhand Expressway costing about Rs 7,000 crore to connect the Delhi NCR via Agra-Lucknow and Yamuna expressway in December 2021. This deadline too could be pushed back. 

The completion dates for Purvanchal Expressway and the Ganga Expressway stretch farther into the future. The former cuts across nine districts, including Lucknow, Barabanki, Amethi and Sultanpur. It will also include an airstrip in Sultanpur district for allowing landing and takeoff to the Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter planes during an emergency. The government claims almost 90 per cent of the civil work is already complete. The Ganga Expressway has some massive land claims to surmount. Once completed it will apparently be the world’s longest access-controlled expressway project. To do that it will need about 7,800 hectare of land across 12 districts, each densely populated. However the officials claim they have acquired about 40 per cent of the required land.

Migration and Covid challenge 

About 4 million workers went back from their work to the different villages and towns of UP last year, as the Covid lockdown began to bite.  While that was traumatic, the visuals of dead bodies on rivers like Ganga showed up as an even more horrible sceptre. UP was a disaster waiting to happen. A Niti Aayog dashboard shows only 6.10 per cent of the state population had some form of health insurance or any other coverage and this number has not improved in the past four years. Even Bihar has a better track record at 12.1 per cent. The national average is 28.7 per cent. The state, even in 2020, has just 14 doctors, nurses and and midwives per 10,000 population against the India average of 37. These numbers have not improved for a long time. 

Last year too, the state administration had received flak as the demands to rapidly establish quarantine facilities next to roads and at the towns where the migrants returned in bulk often being far less than the scale of need. Ramping up the production of PPE kits and hand sanitisers were the other demands. 

But those were, in retrospect, trivial compared to the demand for oxygen and beds for those ill. The state, till now has reported 1,704,358 ill and 22,224 dead. Both these figures are contested as understatements. 

Yogi Adityanath’s administration was therefore most ill prepared for the wave. All the worst possible health outcomes expected for India were on demonstration in the state, especially in April. Oxygen supplies fell short and beds in hospitals became scarce. The administration scampered to react.  One of the first things it did was to order action against social media posts that spread “hatred” or “malice”. As a result several journalists were hauled up for reports that were considered painting the state response poorly. Matters were compounded by the four phase panchayat elections in the state which added to the spread of the disease. The state high court at Allahabad repeatedly told the government to ensure better management of the pandemic.

The medical response improved towards the end of May. The state created a team of secretaries referred to as Team 11 for what it claimed would provide a “dynamic response to the current situation and to cater to the specific medical requirements in the second wave”.

Till last week it has conducted 55 million tests, the highest in the country. Yet the number does not bring it among the top five states and union territories with more than 10 million population that have carried out the highest number of tests. Again in terms of number of vaccine shots administered till Monday at 30,447,058 it trailed Maharashtra with 32,394,410.

State GDP

The gross state domestic product of Uttar Pradesh grew at a CAGR of 4.76 per cent in the four years of the BJP government in the state. It is now Rs 17.06 trillion, though it is not yet the second largest economy among all states, as it claims. The State achieved revenue surplus of Rs 28,250 crore in FY19 but a CAG scrutiny points out “the same is overstated by Rs 13,419 crore”. It was made possible by understating the outstanding liabilities of the state. Despite the accounting switches, the fiscal deficit of the state for the last audited year, FY19 increased by 26.58 per cent compared with FY18.

The problem for the state is its level of committed expenditure. It spends 28 per cent of its budget on wages and pensions. As a result only 33 per cent of its spending is available for social sector. Except for roads and bridges, the shares of expenditure on all other heads like education, health and energy is lesser than the national average. For health, this is particularly low.

An IBEF report notes that prior to 2017, the state’s unemployment rate stood at 17.5 per cent, which dipped to 10 per cent in the successive years, before climbing to 21 per cent due to the lockdown-induced economic slump. The state government claims the unemployment rate had further improved to 4.1 per cent in February 2021.  To create fiscal space, the state has begun to push more cities to issue municipal bonds to finance their expenditure. While state capital Lucknow was the first to tap BSE with a Rs 200 crore bond issue in December 2020, Adityanath said Pragyaraj, Varanasi, Kanpur and Agra will follow suit. This would make it the state with the largest number of bond issues.

Social sectors performance

UP numbers shows that a staggering 29.43 per cent of its population are below the poverty line compared to the national average of 21.92. The worrying aspect is that this indicator has not improved in the term of the present government. The poverty record is accentuated by the poor housing cover. 6 per cent of the state’s population live in kutcha houses, against a national average of 4.2. 

It has, however, shown improvement in reducing maternal mortality at birth, spurred by a huge jump in ensuring institutional deliveries from less than 40 per cent before 2017 to 87.6 per cent in 2020. Associated measures like making 100 per cent of its villages open defecation free and making some improvement in water supply to homes has helped. Still it is a long way to go with only 20.35 per cent of rural homes getting drinking water within their homes. The sex ratio at birth too has improved slightly to 880. 

Toning up administration

That UP has the largest contingent of police force and is home to the largest cadre of IAS and IPS is not surprising. Adityanath has ruled the state more with his officers than with the ministers. Even though, he has kept only a few portfolios with him unlike Akhilesh Yadav who once had 57 departments reporting to him. 

The reasons for offering a tough image was to encourage investments into the state. Even though Niti Aayog data shows rate of crimes against STs was highest in Uttar Pradesh at 64 crimes per 1,00,000 of ST population, the highest in India and crimes against women has risen to 55.4 (per lakh female population) quite a dip from 53.2 in 2018, the state administration has assiduously cultivated this image, despite some horrific incidents like the Hathras rape case. 

The state has moved up compared to others in the Ease of Doing Business ranks pushing reforms in several departments and most important improving the assurance of power supply. According to the ministry of power Praapti dashboard which tracks the payment position  of the power sector companies, state wise, UP discoms had an outstanding of Rs 6,062 crore at the end of April, 2021. This is higher than April 2017 but in those months the state was able to only pay the overdues. The state has substantially eroded those. 

While the entry of Samsung is a massive thumbs up sign for the state bringing in its trail, other electronics companies, data from the state Infrastructure and Industrial Development department claim the investment story is bigger. Uttar Pradesh, it says, has received over Rs 1.88 trillion investment proposals during his term. While the data is difficult to reconcile from other sources the state portal claims 156 companies have invested nearly Rs 49,000 crore to start manufacturing. Most of these investments have come to Noida and Greater Noida. In terms of actual FDI committed, however, the state’s share in the total national pie is one per cent for the year FY21. 

Table: Uttar Pradesh score card

Parameter 2020 2018 National average 2020
Population below poverty line (%)
29.43 29.43 21.92
Families with health cover (%) 6.1 6.1 28.7
Doctors & other medical staff (per thousand) 14 13 37
Institutional deliveries (%)
87.6 41.3 94.4
Drinking water in premises (%) 20.35 NA 51.36
MGNREGA provided (%) 82.15 84.3 84.44
Maternal Mortality per 100,000 197 216 113
Crimes against women per 100,000 55.4 53.2 62.4
Murders per 100,000 1.7 2.2 2.2
Mobile tele density (%) 67.6 74.76 84.38
Unemployment*  6.2 6.2 6.2
GVA agriculture  0.59 0.53 0.71
Renewable energy (% of total energy)
25.77 NA 36.37
Households electrified  100 78.91 100

Table: State Budget Uttar Pradesh
Particulars
FY21 FY18
Revenue receipts (Rs cr) 2,79,377.41 2,78,775.45
Of which own tax (%)  54.1 36.8
Expenditure (Rs cr)
3,49,727.15 3,05,311.49
Of which, Social (%) 35.5 33.9
Capital (%) 14.7 12.8



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