YOGI ADITYANATH’S ministers were in the national capital on Thursday to seek the Centre’s assistance to push development projects in the state, even as the state government prepares to make the completion of 100 days in office a memorable event. Among the proposals the state government is pushing are revival of Jewar airport project, realigning the Buddhist circuit roads, a Ganga circuit connecting Hindu pilgrim centres and time-bound programmes to improve social indicators.
While state Health Minister Sidharth Nath Singh and Civil Aviation Minister Nand Gopal Gupta Nandi met Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha, state Power Minister Shrikant Sharma had a meeting with Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal.
“Regional connectivity in UP, being significant for the state’s development, is primary in the government’s agenda. While 85 per cent of the state’s connectivity is through roads, we are trying to improve air connectivity too,” said Singh.
The state ministers had a detailed discussion with Sinha for reviving the Jewar international airport project, and requested the Centre to conduct a fresh feasibility study, considering that India will have around 100 million air passengers each year by the end of this year.
With the Centre announcing the UDAN scheme, the UP government wants Lucknow, Varanasi, Allahabad and Gorakhpur connected to it.
“We also want the Centre to handhold the state government to convert Kushinagar airport into an international airport,” Singh said.
Sinha had earlier said that the Centre would conduct a fresh technical evaluation as the previous evaluation was done many years ago. He had said that a second airport needed to be built in the next four-eight years in the NCR, as the terminal capacity of Delhi’s IGIA could be saturated.
The Delhi airport terminals can at present handle 62 million passengers annually. In 2016-17, it handled 57.7 million passengers.
Singh said the state government also plans to realign the Buddhist circuit roads, and proposed another circuit for Ganga Darshan, which will also have air connectivity with both fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters. The Ganga Darshan circuit will cover Varanasi, Allahabad, Ayodhya, Chitrakoot, Mathura and Vindyachal. “The discussions were encouraging,” Singh said.
The minister admitted that his government would have to focus on improving social indicators, adding that the state is behind African countries in human development indicators.
During a recent visit of a NITI Aayog delegation led by Arvind Panagariya, a six-member working group was constituted to chalk out a strategy to improve the development index of the state. Singh, a member of the working group representing the UP government, said the group had identified health and family welfare, nutrition, drinking water, sanitation, rural development, agriculture, industrialisation and ease of business as focus areas on which all departments of the government should work together.
To push industrialisation, the state government is considering a proposal for land pooling for technology investment and waiving stamp duty for it. “We should consider the revenue loss if such a plan is implemented, but there is a view that it would do good in the long run,” Singh said.