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Uttar Pradesh Government’s Big Infra Race Before Polls

Uttar Pradesh government is racing against time to showcase, ahead of the coming Assembly elections.

Others include the Kashi Vishwanath Dham Project, AIIMS, Gorakhpur, Kanpur Metro, Uttar Pradesh Defence Industrial Corridor, Kushinagar airport, Bundelkhand Expressway, and Ganga Expressway. While Kushinagar airport has been inaugurated, others are in various stages of completion. The Adityanath government also recently inaugurated the Purvanchal Expressway.

One of the most ambitious projects of PM Modi in his parliamentary constituency Varanasi, it aims at the expansion and development of the Kashi Vishwanath Temple campus, and of amenities along the corridor connecting the temple to the Manikarnika Ganga Ghat. About 90% of the project is reportedly complete — work is pending in the area surrounding Manikarnika and on a jetty near the Ghat — with inauguration by Modi tentatively set for December 13.

The foundation stone for an institute in the traditional constituency of Adityanath, which has long battled Japanese encephalitis and saw a controversy over deaths of children at a hospital allegedly due to lack of oxygen, was laid by the PM before the BJP came to power in UP. Work started after Adityanath became CM in 2017, and by early 2019, OPD facility had started. The appointment of more faculty and staff is on.

The foundation stone for the 32.5-km line was laid by PM Modi just before the 2017 Assembly elections, and the ceremony was attended by then CM Akhilesh Yadav. Work couldn’t start immediately as polls were notified, and both the BJP and Samajwadi Party governments claim credit for the project. Earlier this month, Adityanath flagged a trial run on the 9-km stretch from IIT Kanpur to Motijheel area, and sources said the government is hoping to start the commercial run in this part with six trains by mid-December, before the 2022 election notification.

The project was announced by Modi during an investors’ summit in Lucknow. The plan is to manufacture defence equipment, including weapons, sensors, aircraft and helicopters, domestically. In UP, six nodes have been identified — Lucknow, Kanpur, Jhansi, Agra, Aligarh and Chitrakoot — to be connected via expressways, and bring together medium, small and micro industries. The government is in the process of identifying land (with acquisition on course in Jhansi and Aligarh), and claims to have signed over 32 MoUs. The plans include a defence park in Kanpur. Recently, the PM laid the foundation for a Rs 400-crore unit of Bharat Dynamics Ltd, that will manufacture the propulsion system for anti-tank guided missiles.

This is one of the major infrastructure projects completed under the Adityanath government. However, it was conceptualised long before, having been the dream project of the 2007-12 BSP government (Kushinagar is believed to be the final resting place of Gautam Buddha). The airport, that faced protests over land acquisition, was recently inaugurated by Modi as part of the Buddhist Circuit, with the first flight from Sri Lanka carrying monks. A direct flight from Delhi started on Friday, and flights to Mumbai and West Bengal are scheduled to start from December 18.

The Adityanath government claims to have completed about 76% of the work on the 296-km expressway, connecting Etawah, Auraiya, Jalaun, Hamirpur, Banda, Mahoba and Chitrakoot. While it hopes to inaugurate it before polls are notified, thus making it the first expressway project to be conceptualised and completed by it — unlike the Poorvanchal Expressway on which work started under the SP — sources said there is at least two more months to go for the project. Still, the BJP hopes to still reap poll dividends if the expressway is started by the polls. Apart from helping the backward region, the project is significant as the defence corridor is planned along this expressway.

The 594-km project will be one of India’s longest expressways, running through UP from Uttarakhand to Bihar border, connecting the districts of Meerut, Hapur, Bulandshahr, Amroha, Sambha, Shahjahanpur, Hardoi, Unnao, Rae Bareli, Pratapgarh and Prayagraj. A similar project under the BSP was caught in environmental hurdles. On November 20, a State Level Environment Impact Authority cleared the proposed alignment of the project. Adityanath has claimed acquisition of over 80% of the land, and said on Friday that the foundation-laying would be done by next month.

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