On Tuesday, no company or infrastructure developer came forward to bid for the proposed eight-lane Greenfield Expressway between Agra and Lucknow.

Officials admitted on Wednesday that this would cast a shadow on the state's efforts to promote infrastructure in a major way. The 270-km expressway is one of the favourite projects of Akhilesh Yadav. He has often referred to it in his speeches.

Conceptualised in 2012, soon after the Samajwadi Party took power, the project was much hyped at business meets. But the lukewarm interest in the Rs 10,000 crore project has crashed the hopes of the government to shore up Uttar Pradesh's image as a business destination.

"It is a big project and we guess no company came forward due to recession. We will certainly explore new options now," said Mukul Singhal, chief executive officer of the Uttar Pradesh Expressways Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA).

Officials, however, concede that the industry's cold response was "a big shocker". Industry majors like Jaypee Associates, Essel Infra projects and many others had taken part in the technical bid for the project September 3.

Many attribute the u-turn to a growing perception that the Chief Minister was not in control of the situation in the state.

"After widespread incidents of lawlessness, political brinksmanship, labour unrest and communal riots, any wise businessman will think a hundred times before pumping in this kind of money in Uttar Pradesh," admitted a senior official.

Another ambitious scheme of the Akhilesh Yadav government -- free tablet distribution for Class X students -- too went up in smoke. The Rs 800 crore scheme aimed at distributing 26 lakh odd tablet PCs to students drew no bids, an electronics department official said.

While only one company came forward initially, it too withdrew later due to technical specification issues.


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