After the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) astounding victory in the recently-concluded Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections 2017, apex industry body ASSOCHAM has said that the need of the hour in the state is ensuring adequate electricity supply in the coming summer.
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.
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 new government should immediately take recourse to the Ujjwal Discom Assurance Yojana (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 D. S. Rawat, Secretary General, ASSOCHAM. The state currently produces about 360-400 lakh tonnes per annum and is the leading producer of milk in the country.
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. Since the 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 faced water scarcity and general backwardness, the chamber asserted.