Why do you need any help from NITI Aayog to construct Purvanchal Express? The question was asked by CEO NITI Aayog Amitabh Kant when officials of Uttar Pradesh Expressway Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA) went to meet him last month. Purvanchal Express is the dream project of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and is an extension of Agra-Lucknow Expressway, the project which Akhilesh Yadav claimed was a jewel in his regime’s crown.
Incidentally, Akhilesh Yadav built that 302 km Greenfield expressway from the state government’s own exchequer in a record time of 24 months. In his tenure Akhilesh Yadav announced extension of this expressway to Ballia and named it as Samajwadi Purvanchal Expressway, With the change of government Yogi government shelved other projects but adopted this scheme with the new name of Purvanchal Expressway.
The Chief Minister, however, faced a problem staring at his face because he does not have the money to complete the project. Implementation of crop loan waiver scheme has drained government’s resources. A major share of government budget – ₹36,000 crore – to be precise, has gone to that scheme. Thus the government is left with very less money to carry on development scheme.
In this background UPEIDA officials went to NITI Aayog seeking financial help. “Why you are asking funds for this road? The government should ask money for education or health sector. If you do not have money the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) will construct the road for you. The state government should acquire land and hand over the same to the NHAI and it should construct the expressway for you,” Kant told the UPEIDA officials in the meeting which was also attended by the NHAI officials.
It is not clear whether NHAI will take up this scheme but one thing is sure that if government manages to influence NHAI to build that expressway, it will save huge money because the Agra-Expressway was constructed approximately at a whopping ₹20,000 crore.
Not only for Purvanchal Expressway, Government has started taking loan for completion of other projects also saying it has no money to complete pending schemes. Though the budget was passed in July end this year, the Yogi Government has sought a loan of ₹6100 crore for the Public Works Department. Government spokesman Shrikant Sharma said that the money will be used for widening of highways, linking villages and completing all the pending work.
“The UP Nirman Nigam will get ₹2600 crore, State Highway Authority’s share will be ₹2500 crore while the UP Bridge Corporation will get ₹1000 crore,” Sharma said. This proposal has been approved by the State Cabinet.
Government spokesman said that even for ‘Power for All scheme’ the government has decided to take loan of ₹1250 crore for completion of distribution projects of Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation limited while for transmission it is proposed to take ₹843.75 crore loan.
The state government has decided to take a loan of ₹1000 crore from HUDCO at the rate of 8.75 per cent for 15 years for construction of houses for the poor under Pradhan Mantri Affordable Housing Scheme. Over 1 lakh houses will be constructed in UP under this scheme where Centre’s share will be 60 per cent while the state will contribute 40 per cent. Spokesman said that state government will give ₹1 lakh while the centre will pay the rest amount of ₹1.50 lakh.