Buyers’ interests will be protected at all costs, says CEO of the Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority.
The Yamuna Expressway Industrial Development Authority (YEIDA) has become a major attraction for industries because of the dynamic connectivity projects that are underway and various government subsidies to encourage investments in the area. Arun Vir Singh (IAS), CEO, YEIDA, talked to The Sunday Guardian about what makes YEIDA an ideal hub for business and how he plans to keep a check on road safety at the expressway and keep attracting businessmen towards investment opportunities in YEIDA. Excerpts:
Q: How much investment has YEIDA attracted and what kind of projects are expected to start?
A: At the Uttar Pradesh Investor’ Summit, we had signed around 28 MoUs directly with the companies, while several other MoUs have also been signed through various departments. The total value of these investments as of now stands around Rs 15,000-20,000 crore, excluding big comapnies like Adani etc. Adani is starting a huge project here in 2,500 acres for which the MoU has already been signed and several meetings are taking place to chart-out the plan. Adani will also establish an international university here in collaboration with some foreign universities in 300 acres of land. Adding Adani, the cost of investment goes up to Rs 25,000 crore.
Q: Though 28 MoUs were signed at the UP Investors Sumiit, only four companies have paid the required money.
A: We had issued the letter in the first week of March and given them only 10 days to expedite the process, but it takes more time than that, which is why we decided to extend the date to submit the money and DPRs. Now, the last date is 31 March. I hope that more than 70% companies will turn up because only those companies had applied to invest in YEIDA who are in real need of industry, have already recognised their piece of lands and have done their homework before signing the MoU. When I was working in the Ministry of Commerce and Textiles, the conversion rate was as low as 3%, but here the conversion is high, which is good. The people who have signed the MoUs are also looking for other sites like Bundelkhand, Noida, Greater Noida for various reasons. For example in Eastern UP, land is comparitively cheaper and there are better incentives, like GST reimbursement is maximum, electricity tarriff is low, interest subsidies are available etc. So, all these factors affect the final decision of companies. The Gautam Budha Nagar and Ghaziabad area that comes under YEIDA has been identified as a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and the maximum benefit has been given to manufacturing units and electronic companies.
Q: How does YEIDA plan to ease connectivity for its industries?
A: The Jewar Airport has already been approved by the state government and GOI; we are now in the process of acquisition. We have hired a consultant called PWC, which is a Singapore-based company. They have submitted the Technical Feasibility Report (TFR) and it awaits final approval. After that, we will go to the Ministry of Civil Aviation and we hope that by October-November, the construction might start. As far as connectivity is concerned, Jewar airport has the best connectivity in Delhi-NCR. It is connected to the Yamuna Expressway and there is a 100 km parallel road. On one side, there is the Palwal-Khurja road, on the third side is another 120 km road and on the fourth side from Greater Noida, we have a 130 km road. We are integrating this with the Rail Rapid Mass Transport System. We are also going to have Metro connectivity between Jewar Airport and Pari Chowk, Greater Noida. A feasibility study is ongoing for the Jewar Airport and IGI airport and Jewar airport and Connaught Place. The aim is that by the time the IGI reaches its maximum capacity of 100 million passengers by 2022, we have Jewar Airport directly connected to South Extension to help with decongestion at least by 40%. As far as High Speed Metro is concerned, there are many other parallel modes of transport that have been innovated in the world, but India might not be ready to be able to invest so much money.
Q: What has been the role of the Single Window Portal?
A: The Single Window Portal (SWP) has been created by the Chief Minister’s office, which is called “Nivesh Mitra”. The best feature of the SWP is that all the approvals will be granted online whenever a person files for NoCs etc. The portal is also monitored by the Chief Minister’s office so they can raise questions, if any unnecessary delay is detected.
Since everybody is on the same platform, it increases transparency and effectiveness. This is a new portal and still in its first phase. In terms of investment, YEIDA is young and has just started to get investments. So in our case, we are undertaking the process of various approvals manually as well and digitally. Our people are always here to help.
Q: How does YEIDA plan to be vigilant and weed out any malpractices to discourage corruption?
A. We have been vigilant and we had come across cases of some builders who had diverted funds. We have done builder audit. In two cases, we have suspended the approval given to the companies. We have a zero tolerance to corrupt practices and intend to protect buyers’ interests at all costs.
Q. The Yamuna Expressway has been facing the problem of encroachment. How does YEIDA intend to resolve the issue?
A. We have 165 km area which is huge. We have been receiving complaints of encroachments on the Yamuna Expressway which we have taken cognisance of and acted upon. Some hotels and dhabas have set up shop near the road. We intend to demolish these illegal structures. Nobody will be spared. We cannot allow anybody to change the master plan.
Q. The Yamuna Expressway recently witnessed two deadly road accidents that led to over 10 victims dying on the spot. What are your observations on these accidents and how do you plan to address the issue?
A. Speed is a big problem. We have taken a lot of measures to make the expressway safe. As much as 84% of the accidents take place between 3:30am and 4:30am and the speed-o-metre is stuck at 160kmph and above. In order to make travel safe, we have made some infrastructural changes on the Yamuna Expressway which includes introduction of Medium Crash Barrier to reduce the space between two lanes. We have introduced challan slips at toll plazas that can be paid along with the toll; there are huge screens across the expressway that display over-speeding cars. We are developing “Highway Sathi”, a mobile application, that will be connected to GPS so that everytime a person over-speeds, a pop-up or alarm goes off in the phone to discourge over-speeding.