Work on the Purvanchal Expressway in progress. Infra projects, which the previous regime proposed and started, are incomplete for lack of funds, sloppy pace of work, or allegations of corruption. Photo: UPEIDA
Lucknow Metro, described as the country’s fastest-completing metro rail service, has had three inaugurations.
In the run-up to the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections in 2017, then chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on December 1, 2016, inaugurated the trial run of Lucknow Metro on the priority section of 8.5 km, calling it a “sterling example of the Samajwadi Party (SP) government’s development agenda”.
Later, on September 5, 2017, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath
inaugurated the commercial run of Lucknow Metro on the priority section, saying the Narendra Modi-led Central government had facilitated funding and clearances for the flagship project.
Again on March 8, 2019, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, through a video conference in Kanpur, inaugurated Lucknow Metro’s commercial operations on the 23-km route, prompting Yadav to accuse the BJP government of appropriating his projects.
Yadav’s oft-repeated jibe at Adityanath is not without substance.
Although Adityanath, since he took office in March 2017, has found place among the most prominent BJP faces nationally and is utilised to the hilt for election campaigns, he has not much to show for himself in industrial or infrastructure development.
Even infrastructure projects, which the previous regime proposed and started, are incomplete for lack of funds, the sloppy pace of work, or allegations of corruption. Some such projects are the Purvanchal Expressway, Gomti River Front, and Jai Prakash Narayan International Centre.
The only projects finished during BJP rule are the ones Yadav had launched and were nearing completion when he lost power. These are the Agra-Lucknow Expressway, the Ekana Stadium (renamed Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Cricket Stadium), Lucknow Metro, the secretariat building, Lok Bhawan, etc.
After becoming chief minister, Adityanath instructed officials to start preparing for an Investors’ Summit in Lucknow, which happened on February 21-22, 2018, with Modi inaugurating the event and Mukesh Ambani, Kumar Mangalam Birla, and Gautam Adani attending it. There were investment proposals of Rs 4.68 trillion. On the occasion, Modi said a Defence Manufacturing Corridor would be developed in Bundelkhand, an arid region, with an initial investment of almost Rs 20,000 crore.
The foundations of projects of more than Rs 60,000 crore were laid in June last year. However, there has been no perceptible change in the industrial landscape.
Another ceremony to lay the foundation of projects worth Rs 60,000 crore is scheduled for July 28-29, with Union Home Minister Amit Shah attending the inaugural function.
Keeping the Assembly elections of 2022 in mind, the Adityanath government has moved fast on flagship infrastructure projects with an investment portfolio of more than Rs 1 trillion, so that they are either completed before the polls or achieve significant progress.
Some of these are the Purvanchal Expressway (Rs 23,000 crore), the Gorakhpur Link Expressway (Rs 5,555 crore), the Bundelkhand Expressway (Rs 14,000 crore), the Ganga Expressway (Rs 36,000 crore), the Bundelkhand Defence Corridor (Rs 20,000 crore), Jewar International Airport (Rs 16,000 crore), Kanpur Metro Rail, and Agra Metro Rail.
After the Lok Sabha elections, Adityanath has been taking stock of schemes and projects and giving stern directives to officials to expedite work. For example, the state has set the deadline of August 2020 to complete the 340-km Purvanchal Expressway.
Senior SP leader and former UP minister Rajendra Chaudhary slammed the BJP regime for allegedly reneging on promises during elections. “The government has been presenting projects such as Lucknow Metro started under Yadav,” he said, claiming the people of the state would see for themselves that none of the flagship projects, including the Purvanchal Expressway, would be completed before 2022.
BJP Spokesperson Shalabh Mani Tripathi said the UP government
was running itself into the ground to achieve its targets, including those of industrial and infrastructure projects. “The key is to ensure the quality of civil works, transparency, and public probity in these mega projects. The state has also launched a massive anti-corruption drive and several government servants have been sacked. All projects will meet their targets.”