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Interview: Alok Ranjan, Chief Advisor to UP CM, talks about crime rate, industrial & rural development
The UP government led by chief minister Akhilesh Yadav is working hard to execute various development related projects in the state. Former chief secretary and currently, chief minister's chief advisor Alok Ranjan has been playing a pivotal role in transforming Akhilesh Yadav's vision into reality.

Alok Ranjan, known as a sensitive and hard working IAS officer, spoke to Merinews.com's senior journalist Sanjay Mishra at length and shared the experience of his administrative journey as well as the state government's plans regarding development.

Here are excerpts from the interview.

Q: How are you feeling after such a long journey in administrative service. At which point in your entire service period you started feeling that there are more challenges here?

Alok Ranjan (AR): I am feeling good. But along with that 'feel good' factor, I also feel sad that I have got just one life to serve the country. See, as far as challenges are concerned, I will say that challenges are always part of the administrative services. The USP of the administrative services is that you get an opportunity to work in various departments where you have to tackle different types of challenges using your skills and experience. I am satisfied that even while facing those challenges I was able to push the speed of development. It has been my priority to fulfill my duties with full devotion and honesty. I enjoyed my service period a lot.

Alok Ranjan with CM Akhilesh Yadav

Q: You always tried to do something new during your deployment in various districts. Prayag Festival in Allahabad and Taj Festival in Agra, which are now world famous fests, are result of your efforts. Don't you think other districts in the state can also be developed through such festivals.

AR: I think, yes, it is possible. Such festivals will help not only in the development of tourism but can also facilitate overall development of the district. I started Taj festival in Agra, which is now part of International Tourist Calender. I had initiated total literacy programme in Agra, which resulted into 100% literacy in the district. I had also started the process of computerising land records. 

See, the district magistrates can start Taj Festival like programmes in their respective districts and they are doing it also. I feel such initiatives can bring big changes in their districts. Such fests could be a good medium of creating socio-cultural awareness among people.

Q: When you were Commissioner, Agriculture Production, you had launched many programmes to increase the production. You had said that efforts were going on to bring green revolution in eastern Uttar Pradesh. But today, there's no major change that one can see here in terms of agricultural development.

AR: No, I do not agree with what you said. Eastern Uttar Pradesh has improved a lot. During my term, the productivity gap between western Uttar Pradesh and eastern Uttar Pradesh witnessed a significant reduction.I went into depth to figure out why agriculture production is low in eastern Uttar Pradesh and after knowing the reason I started working towards finding the solution of the problem.

I contacted agronomists, introduced soil testing facilities in districts, told officers to spread awareness among farmers so that they get the soil tested on regular basis and learn about its need. The farmers were told to grow only that crop which suits the soil and use only apt amount of fertilizer.

The officers were told very clearly that farmers should get fertilisers and seeds on time and there should not be any laxity.

Apparently, these efforts brought fruitful results.There was a significant increase in the production, but still there are lot of things that need to be done.

Firstly, there is a need to build confidence among the farmers that there is neither any harm in modern agriculture, nor any loss.Besides, the farmers should use fertiliser, water and seeds according to the need only to ensure production on expected lines.

I feel, it is not a difficult task and it will definitely happen. In years to come, you will see that eastern Uttar Pradesh will be no less than any other part of the state in any aspect.

Q: Industrial development has been a major challenge for Uttar Pradesh, and even today it has not moved ahead of Noida and Ghaziabad. As an Industrial Development Commissioner, you tried to develop industries in central and eastern UP, however you didn't achieve much success. Why?

AR: See, we have implemented lot of changes under "Easy way of Doing Business." You must have seen that in a ranking by the government of India, we stood at the tenth spot and we were almost close to Maharashtra. Except south, we were ahead of almost all other north Indian States.

Many reforms have taken place because of "Easy Way of Doing Business." One of the most significant improvements can be seen in the form of Single Window.For a project over Rs 50 cr, we have implemented the Single Window system after getting it approved by the Cabinet.

Earlier, when I was the Chief Secretary, I had decided that the Single Window system will be extended to small industries also. The process has started now. In fact, when it will be operational, the problems of the entrepreneurs pointed out by you, will be resolved. And this is the real message we want to give.

Rest, we want that more and more entrepreneurs should come here and establish their businesses so that more job opportunities are created, which is very essential for UP.

During my tenure, many MOUs were signed. And now, a lot more can be seen on the ground. As far as central and eastern Uttar Pradesh are concerned, we formed a policy that we will give incentive to those industrialists who will establish industries in these two parts of the state. There was no such policy for western UP.

Actually, entrepreneurs like to set up industries in Noida and Ghaziabad because of the better infrastructure, location and transportation facilities. But now, when the state is rapidly developing under Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav's leadership, and the roads such as Agra-Lucknow expressway, Purvanchal Expressway and the Rail Freight Corridor etc. being developed, and the problem of electricity being addressed, there won't be any reason of not investing in central and eastern Uttar Pradesh.

Q: Soon after taking the charge as UP Chief Secretary, you started working on the vision of Akhilesh government. You were successful to a big extent in achieving your goals, but not that successful in bringing down the rate of crime. Why?

AR: I do not agree that crime wasn't controlled. The crime was controlled, but some grave incidences happened that should not had happened at all. Such incidents raise question mark over the government, tarnish its image, and no one likes this kind of events to take place.

Our chief minister is very strict against such incidents. A person who is fully devoted towards the development of Uttar Pradesh feels immense pain whenever a crime takes place. I admit that crime should not be ignored at any cost and the crimes against women should be dealt strictly. We tried to bring such work culture and it needs to be carried forward.

Q: Do you think crime has slowed down the pace of development that Akhilesh Yadav's government dreams about?

AR: See, the pace of development has not been affected by the crime, growth is still there. But, crimes are being exaggerated and publicised, to tarnish the image of the state government. Today, everyone agrees that various works done by the Uttar Pradesh government to develop the state are praise worthy. As far as crime is concerned, one can not say that police is not doing their duty or they do not want to control the crime. The police are on their toes, but sometimes some incidents create a perception that the government is not doing its work properly and the state police is useless. But I think it's wrong. However, it is necessary that the police should review where the mistake has occurred. The police must be vigilant and should work to overcome the shortcomings. It should work to create fear in the minds of criminals.

Q: When you were Chief Secretary, did you ever feel that your colleagues are not providing you the required assistance to help you in changing the image of the state?

AR: No, I never felt so. I had a very good team, they worked very well with me. I has told them about the goals, and the vision of the Chief Minister. I personally monitored each and everything, reviewed the work and saw that everyone responded positively and did their work properly.

Q: As far as rural development is concerned, villages in UP are still not up to the mark despite being powered with various development schemes. What would you say on this issue?

AR: See, the state government has paid attention on rural development. Enough work has been done under MNREGA. Skill Development work is also under progress. Much work has been done on the housing segment. Earlier, the poor people were used to be alloted Indira Aawas Yojana. But the houses under this scheme were not good. So, the UP government started allotting houses under Lohia Samgra Gram Vikas Scheme, which cost Rs 3 lakh each, but is made available to the poor for free. Along with a Lohia house, the government also allots Solar power pack to beneficiaries.

The state government is also developing villages under the Lohia scheme. The villages under this scheme are well connected with roads. It has been planned that per year 2,000 villages will be taken under this scheme and within five years 10,000 villages will be converted into Lohia villages. The main approach under this scheme will be electrification of villages and development of connecting roads.

Overall, I can say that the government has worked very seriously towards the rural development and will continue to do so.

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