Faced with high expectations created by a massive mandate given to the BJP, the incoming Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh has to meet immediate challenges of ensuring much better electricity supply in the coming summer, give urgent relief to Bundelkhand and find a lasting solutions for arrears of sugarcane farmers, the ASSOCHAM said on Saturday. The Uttar Pradesh has a sizeable annual budget of about Rs. 3.5 lakh crore with a deficit of about Rs. 50,000 crore. Though there is a scope for bettering the state balance sheet, its fiscal situation is not as bad as some states, the chamber said. The top priority of the new government should be to drastically improve the quality and quantity of power supply in the ensuing summer.
Like several parts of the country, the challenge is not as much generation and availability of power but the financial health of the power utilities, mostly in the state ownership. The new government should immediately take recourse to the UDAY scheme of the Centre and bring the state utility to robust health so that the users in both rural and urban areas are given better power supply.
As is provided in the new scheme of things, fresh investment should be made in separate supply channels to the farmers who, for welfare reasons, have to be given the electricity supply at the concessional rates and the financial load can be taken by the state government, rather than the individual power utility. “Being an agricultural state, Uttar Pradesh has a huge potential in diverse agro activities like live stock, milk production and processing, food processing . For instance, abundant supply of potatoes in districts like Kannauj and mango in areas like Maliabad, need a modern processing facilities which should be encouraged in the private sector by way of fiscal and other support. Likewise, lot more agro hubs and mandis should be built in the state,” said ASSOCHAM Secretary General, D S Rawat.
As of now, the state produces about 360-400 lakh tonnes per annum and is the number one producer of milk in the country. The state has several large sized cities like Lucknow, Kanpur, Varanasi, Allahabad, Noida, Agra, Meerut, Moradabad, Meerut, which need to be modernized and upgraded in terms of infrastructure. While initiatives like metro rail have been taken, they must be enlarged and lot more investment be made in city infrastructure including sanitation, drinking water, urban waste management.
“A drive down the state presents a bad picture of heaps of plastics not only in cities but also in villages, creating an environment hazards, including the ground water,” the chamber said. Since the same BJP is now in power in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh, a better coordination should be achieved between the two states to give a better deal to the Bundelkhand areas which have suffered for long due to water scarcity and general backwardness.