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Panellists feel that PM Modi’s plans of promising development funds in the state is a good sign, but these need to get off the ground successfully

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched 81 investment projects worth over Rs 600 billion (Rs 60,000 crore) for Uttar Pradesh at a ground-breaking mega-event. APN’s popular debate Mudda took up the issue of whether such investment will boost development, or is this simply a populist move before the general elections. Anchorperson Anant posed the questions to panellists including economist Akash Jindal, Steel Board MD Rajiv Kapur, SP’s Pradeep Singh, Congress’s Anup Patel, BJP’s Anand Sahu and APN consultant Govind Pant Raju.

Sahu said: “It is for the first time that this kind of investment and technology is coming in UP. Electric scooters and cars will change the scenario now. When industry starts, cluster development starts, and employment happens.”

Patel said: “It is good news. UP is lagging behind in development. But development is more than ‘Signing India’. PM went to Bihar and asked people ‘you want Rs 1 lakh crore, 2 lakh crore or more?’. Is this the way the PM is supposed to arrange for funds in a state? Bundelkhand has been waiting for funds for a long time.”

Singh said: “The news to siphon development funds in UP is welcome. But we need to see that there is a difference in talk, intention and reality.”

Kapur said: “Industrialists are now looking seriously at UP. When an industry is set up, smaller industries also come in. There’s a lot of difference in planning and execution. Safety, law and order are also important. Under CM Yogi, the law and order situation is better in UP now.”

Jindal said: “There are a lot of growth possibilities in UP, the topography suits industry, water resources are good, and a talented pool of resources is also there. But still, issues concerning infrastructure  affect development. What’s needed is growth of industrial corridors, export opportunities’ data, export-import policies, and so on. Investors will put money only when they see some profitability there.”

Raju said: “There is certainly an improvement in ease of doing business. But roads and networking in smaller areas are yet to improve. Problems regarding pot holes, water logging and overloading are still there.”

Sahu said: “Road, power and labour are important. In Bundelkhand (like Kalahnadi) there is a serious water shortage. The government has a multi pronged strategy.”

At this point, Patel told Sahu that he cannot club Bundelkhand with Kalahandi.

Sahu added: “If water comes in Bundelkhand, other plans will surely take off.”

Singh said: “SP did a lot of work for Bundelkhand. At least drinking water problem was improved by SP. If Patanjali was in Bundelkhand, development would have been fast-tracked there.”

Kapur said:”Businessman needs infrastructure.”

Patel said:  “Bundelkhand is not like Kalahandi. It’s not good to critiise the earlier governments. Modi’s policies are only geared to please his friends Ambani, Adnani and the like.”

Jindal said:”It is not that water cannot reach Bundelkhand. Innovation and creativity is needed for water to reach Bundelkhand. In the last five years, we are at the lowest level of FDI. What’s the explanation of that? FDI is the source of investment.”

Anant said he wanted to understand the socio-economic conditions better.

Raju said: “It’s a fact that development in Bundelkhand has been caught in political bickering. Bundelkhand is not a backward area. People have looted the area, which is why it is in bad shape. Some months are still there before the LS polls, and BJP will certainly benefit if the projects take off successfully.”

~ Compiled by Niti Singh Bhandari

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