Usually in the news for the wrong reasons, Uttar Pradesh has surprised many after it figured in the top 10 Indian states to implement business reforms as per the latest World Bank report, released on Monday. The achievement substantiates Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s appeal to investors―visit UP to experience it, do not go by media reports.
From being a state known for its high rate of crime and poor power availability, UP has emerged as Rising UP.
UP scored 47.37 percent and edged out Haryana, Punjab, Uttarakhand, West Bengal and even Delhi for the rank of number 10 in the World Bank report. “We are glad that UP is in top 10 for the first time,” Kanchan Verma, said special secretary, infrastructure, industries and development. It took several months to complete the report with the UP government submitting its reply in a 98-point action plan followed by another 450 questions which were to be answered by only Yes or No.
In the last three years of the Akhilesh Yadav’s government, UP has adopted several business reforms. The first and foremost, was promoting brand UP.
A new slogan, `UP-Land of Unlimited Potential’ was coined to dispel several misconceptions about the state. Then, Akhilesh interacted with industrialists, meeting them directly. The opposition parties raised a hue and cry over the outcome of Akhilesh’s business summits held at Delhi, Agra and even Mumbai but he knew that even if the summits did not yield the immediate desired results, he had started a new chapter since during the BSP regime business leaders had never met the chief minister.
According to the government, UP has seen an investment of Rs 22,513.16 crore through 14,9001 industrial units including micro, small, medium and large units thus far into the Samajwadi Party’s tenure. Also, issues related to business like undue delay by babus, cumbersome taxation, pending applications, pollution, labour and power have been individually addressed by the UP government.
Several good practices have been implemented to loosen the red tape in the state. The one stop shop – Nivesh Mitra –lying moribund since 2009 was activated and now it has been ranked as one of the best in India according to Planning Commission report in 2014. The portal has a monitoring dashboard with colour coding for officials to monitor progress. For the year 2014-15 as many as 20,282 applications were received out of which 92 percent were disposed and investors alerted through SMS.
Another portal to resolve issues with zero human intervention has been in place since 2013 to redress grievances of investors. Samdhan Divas headed by a Principal Secretary rank official is another initiative where multiple departments meet fortnightly to resolve issues. One active helpline is also available for investors.
Effective implementation of Janhit Guarantee Act 2011 by the Samajwadi Party government is said to be another key factor in UP scoring high in the WB report. It ensures timely delivery of 39 industrial services of 12 departments. The act has a fixed time limit for delivery between 1-120 days with a provision for appeal and imposition of penalty in cases of dereliction.
Commercial tax, a major headache for investors, has been simplified with services through electronic medium. UP is the pioneer in abolishing all the interstate check posts. This has promoted free movement of goods.
The hurdle of pollution certificate too has been lifted with 220 types of industries exempted from inspection by issuing no objection certificates.
For labour issues, UP has adopted a one-stop shop for all labour law compliance. A total of seven labour acts have been brought together and the applicant can fill the application and make an online payment. UP is in the top five states on compliance with labour laws.
The power situation has also improved with new connections available within 15 days and the executive engineer at district level authorised to sanction load upto 3000 KVA.