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Eastern pitch for industry

Akhilesh Yadav

Lucknow, June 9: Chief minister Akhilesh Yadav today said the Centre had given in-principle approval to his government’s proposal for an eastern industrial corridor from Punjab to Bengal through Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand.

Akhilesh had written to the Prime Minister on April 3 suggesting a network of “industry growth centres” parallel to the 1,840km eastern freight corridor being developed by the railways between Ludhiana in Punjab and Dankuni in Bengal. Of this, 1,049km will pass through Uttar Pradesh.

The Centre and six northern and western states are already developing a Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor along the under-construction western freight corridor.

Akhilesh today released his letter to Manmohan Singh and said following his proposal, the Centre had set up an inter-ministerial group that will report within a month on the project’s financial feasibility.

Under the plan, the Centre and the states concerned will pick the sites for the industry centres and share the funds to build infrastructure. The states will have to acquire the land where private investment would be sought for industrial parks.

Akhilesh’s letter made a pitch for all the eastern states. “The states through which the eastern freight corridor traverses are all industrially backward and it is important to boost the industrial growth in these states,” it said.

Akhilesh has sought funds for the eastern industrial corridor and the establishment of a special-purpose vehicle to promote it on the model of the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor Development Corporation. He has proposed eight to 10 industrial growth centres 100-150km apart in Uttar Pradesh. The estimated cost is Rs 60,000 crore.

Some of the suggested centres are: a logistics park in Kanpur, a food-processing centre in Sultanpur, agriculture-based industry in Etawah, leather industry in Kanpur Dehat, and an industrial hub in Muzaffarnagar-Modinagar.

State officials said land acquisition would not be a problem and that large tracts of fallow, non-agricultural land had already been earmarked in Jhansi, Etawah and Auraiyya.

However, apex business chamber Assocham recently said power and law-and-order problems during Akhilesh’s rule had “shaken the confidence of investors”.