There is a new wave of enthusiasm for development in Uttar Pradesh with the arrival of a young, modern thinking Chief Minister.  The key governance issues are being addressed by the new government.  However, the economic measures are necessary for reducing poverty, creating employment opportunities and providing a platform to realize the highest potential.  Nearly 200 million people of the State are dreaming to make their State revive its past glory.  Almost all economic indicators have clubbed the State amongst the ‘Bimaru’ category States.  Though the State in recent past have registered some robust socio-economic indicators, there remains unfinished agenda on good governance, efficiency in implementation and higher trajectory of growth path.

The task no doubt is daunting as the socio-economic ills have penetrated deep into the State polity.  The State must announce ‘big bang’ economic reforms to attract investment.  The reform process is an enabler for the private and public sector to invest in an open and competitive environment and thus achieve efficient allocation of resources resulting in growth, sharing of income and prosperity all around.  The policy intervention by the Government is vital.  Some of the key elements are: (a) opening up of sectors for attracting private investment and ensuring level playing field, (b) clear and transparent policy framework on sectoral basis, (c) dismantling/reduction of the regulatory framework of the Government, (d) efficient and transparent procedures for allotment of land, power, urban, industrial  and environmental regulatory clearance etc., (e) single window clearances and  time-bound disposal of applications, (f) physical infrastructure conducive to efficient operations of enterprises and social infrastructure to attract the skilled professionals in the identified  growth areas.  These steps are prerequisites and lie in the domain of the State Government.  Recently implementation of FDI in multi-brand retail has been left to the State Governments.  Thus, the Centre is also gradually delegating the powers to effect reform at the State level.

Bihar Chief Minister, Mr. Nitish Kumar, while describing his thrust areas after his swearing-in had observed “governance, governance, governance  The thrust area of UP Chief Minister should be ‘development, development and development’.  He need to pick a very sound balanced development team to build an enabling environment for growth.  Fortunately, there are committed and honest bureaucrats in Uttar Pradesh.

The State suffers from low per capita income, low economic growth rate and grossly inadequate infrastructure.  The growth of services and the manufacturing sector is much below the potential.  Agricultural productivity though comparable to national standards has potential  of providing stable base in terms of expanded consumption. There is a strong case for policy intervention in agricultural marketing storage and processing.   There is a shortage of power generation and serious crisis in transmission and distribution of power.  The roads are in need of urgent upgradation.  The IT network which is a prerequisite both in delivery of public services and economic activity is weak in the State.

To attract investment, the State must aim at creating world class infrastructure.  Roads are the backbone for both agriculture and industry.  There are 55000 habitations which are not connected by all-weather roads.  In population terms, about five crore people do not have road connectivity.  This would require a massive budgetary allocation and a time-bound road development plan with imaginative schemes of private-public participation.  Roads influence the voters’ preference.  Therefore, politics has distorted the prioritization of road construction.  This can only be eliminated if a master plan is prepared with the aim of connecting the State for smooth movement of agricultural produce and servicing the industrial growth centres.  It is important to entrust the development of roads at the divisional level under the chairmanship of Divisional Commissioner and Chief Engineer, Public Works Department.

Stable power supply is sin-qua-non for attracting investment.  The State has an adequate generation capacity and highly inefficient transmission and distribution system.  It is important that the glitches in the implementation of power projects are urgently addressed.  The issues relating to land acquisition, fuel linkages, environmental clearances are formidable and unless a high level committee under the leadership of Chief Minister is constituted, the power reform agenda would remain unrealised.  The success of Noida in terms of economic activity should be an example for creating new clusters of growth centres.  This would require pro-active State intervention for land acquisition and provision for infrastructural facility.  These centres must function as a satellite to existing major cities like Ghaziabad, Meerut, Agra, Bareilly, Lucknow, Kanpur, Allahabad, Varanasi and Gorakhpur.  The Government need to  frame imaginative schemes to attract private investment by taking into account the spin off effects of such clusters in terms of land bank, local skills, market etc.

Education, health and social security need is another key area in terms of health index development.  A massive programme for establishment of schools either in public or private sector could be undertaken so that children do not have to walk more than a kilometer at the primary school stage.  The issue of teachers and their quality of education also needs to be addressed.  Also, State wide health transport referral system with a modernization plan for Primary Health Centre including treatment through e-technology should receive high priority.  District level training centres for para medics, nursing and lab assistants need to be included in the health programme.  Also, health insurance to cover emergency medical care for the poor need to be integrated with the Central scheme in this regard.  The State should aim at establishing about 50 Knowledge centres specializing in different skills with direct nexus to employment opportunities.  IT, health nursing, hospitality, automobile, automobile reengineering skills are just illustrative avenues in this context.  It should also set up centres of higher learning in terms of engineering college, medical college and liberal arts and science, and establish academic relationship with well-known foreign universities.

The Government need to create an environment of trust amongst the entrepreneurs with sustainable participative models of development.  Red tape should have no place in the governance of UP.  It is only feasible if the young Chief Minister sets up three high-level committees under his chairmanship addressing the subjects of industrial and cluster development, infrastructure development and well-laid social security programme.  All clearances need to be given by the apex body and an Implementation Committee should be set up under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary.  One acknowledges that there must be committees already existing with the same mandate.  They only have to be rejuvenated and restructured to provide a purpose and mission for development.

Nripendra Misra

(The writer is former Chairman,
Telecom Regulatory Authority of India
and presently Director, Public Interest Foundation
e-mail ID: director@publicinterestfoundation.com)

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