For a moment, close your eyes and let the barrage of emotions and visuals flow past your eyes as you think of the words “Uttar Pradesh” and “Business”. Surely, the image of an early morning dip in the river Ganges, where one cleans one’s conscience and walks back to see the bustling tourist activity along the ghats is cast on the mind. One can see the makeshift xylophone made out of soda bottles in a roadside stall, and hawkers selling their fresh produce straight from the farms. As one drives back to one’s place, one can see the rally of school buses transporting the kids to school. Simultaneously, one can see a barrage of ladies and gents, managing their daily chores. Business, Business, Business. Everyone seems to be engrossed in their activities. That’s the Uttar Pradesh we know as of now.

But the most populous state of India, Uttar Pradesh, surely has the potential to transform into something better. Major projects like Lucknow Metro, Agra-Lucknow Expressway, Cycle tracks, Free laptop distribution, and IT City have been put into the fast-track mode.

Lucknow Metro

Lucknow Metro finds its genesis due to Lucknow’s unique setup. With the population upwards of 3 million, it continues to grow and attract a large number of people to the city. The rapid growth of the city and the associated urban sprawl has accentuated the demand-supply mismatch amidst constrained public transport infrastructure. Adding to the fact that 94% of city’s registered vehicles are private, makes Lucknow an ideal ground for much needed fast, convenient and cheap public transport. With about 1 billion dollars already invested in the project, the Uttar Pradesh Government invested another 95 crores to fast track the project, and hired E. Sreedharan- the “Metro Man” of India, to expedite the development.

Lucknow Metro has got the nod from Union Cabinet for construction of Rail Project Phase-1A. By December 2015, 56% of the civil work had been completed. The first line of the metro is expected to be operational by December 2016. The metro has been designed in France, but design elements have been inspired from places like Hazratganj, Aminabad, etc. Also, the efficiency, energy savings, and passenger comfort were given priority in the metro design.

Agra-Lucknow Expressway

Agra-Lucknow Express wayContinuing on the same theme, another big development that will flow right across the state, connecting Agra, Firozabad, Mainpuri, Etawah, Auraiya, Kannauj, Kanpur City, Unnao, Hardoi and Lucknow is the 6-lane, 302 km long Agra-Lucknow Expressway. The proposed project has been split into 5 divisions and with 15000 crores allocated to the project, the proposed highway is to be inaugurated in the month of October 2016. It will reduce the travel time from Agra to Lucknow by 50%, and will make Mainpuri the next industrial hub, owing to this expressway. This expressway should help farmers in western Uttar Pradesh transport their agricultural, horticultural, and milk products to major cities rapidly. Also, this project is considered to be a Greenfield Project, since there were no work constraints of existing buildings or infrastructure. As of February 2016, the progress can be seen from Google Maps- the entire section from Kuberpur to Lucknow.

Cycle tracks

Talking about unique projects, one cannot ignore the cycle lanes in the capital city of Lucknow. Inspired by the cycle tracks implemented in cities such as Amsterdam, Paris and Berlin, this development can propel the ‘City of Nawabs’ towards eco-friendliness – a need of the hour. With rising pollution levels and city’s administration working out to control traffic, this setup comes as a relief to the city. This project is also touted to be country’s largest cycle track network at 270 km. 31 km stretch of this project has been built with remaining distance being built on a expedited process. Inauguration of 4 stretches of cycle tracks on various parts of Lucknow (Vikramaditya Marg, Kalidas Marg, Lohia Marg) has been completed.

Free Laptop scheme

Laptop Distribution (3)The Uttar Pradesh Government has decided to provide free laptops to meritorious students, who passed class X and XII examinations conducted by CBSE, ICSE and the state board. According to the Government’s official spokesperson, 50 per cent laptops would be for each class X and XII pass out and it would be distributed among students of different boards according to their results & the list of laptop recipients would have 20 per cent quota for minorities and 21 per cent for SC/CT students. Till now, about 1.5 million free laptops have been distributed to eligible students of Class XII. This initiative should provide an equal opportunity to students lagging behind in resources.

IT City

1443731459-351Tech company, HCL, is setting up a 100-acre IT city in Lucknow, and it has been given the status of an SEZ (Special Economic Zone). About 60 acres of the proposed IT city will be allotted to IT and ITeS, including a hi-tech skill development centre. Lucknow produces 20000 engineers annually, but only 4% of them are employable. This skill development centre, which will churn out 1000 trained people every year, should improve this situation. Mr. Shiv Nadar of HCL has assured that the IT City will be complete by October 2016. Cities like Pune, Bangalore and Hyderabad have successfully attracted the IT industry by creating a suitable climate that allows such firms to flourish. Now, it is Lucknow’s turn to play host to the big guns of the IT sphere. With an IT park in place, it would be easier for companies to set up shop in Lucknow. This is owing to the fact that IT is a labor-intensive sector and with premier institutes like IIM Lucknow and IIT Kanpur in the region, along with many other engineering and management institutes, the companies would not face talent acquisition problems. According to the Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, the IT City shall play a crucial role in the overall economic development and boost the industrial growth of the state. Apart from this, it will directly create approximately 25000 job opportunities, and indirectly 50000 opportunities for the youth of the state.

With such projects in pipeline, and continued progress, it seems Mr. Akhilesh Yadav is ready to walk the talk, and bring about tangible change in the state. Again, close your eyes and recall the scene as done before. The image of an early morning dip in the river Ganges, where one cleans one’s conscience, and walks back to see bustling tourist activity along the ghats, is again cast on the mind. One can see the makeshift xylophone made out of soda bottles in a roadside stall, to hawkers selling their fresh produce straight from the farms, thanks to expressway. As one takes a metro ride to one’s place, one can see the rally of schoolchildren cycling their way to schools. Simultaneously, one can see a barrage of ladies and gents, discussing their daily errands as they wait for the next metro ride. Business, Business, Business. Everyone seems to be engrossed in their activities. That is hopefully the Uttar Pradesh we would see in the coming years.

The above article contains sponsored content.

Posted by The Indian Economist