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Virendra Singh Rawat

As the world braces up to welcome New Year 2024, Lucknow – the eponymous ‘City of Nawabs’ embodying old world charm and mannerisms – will bid adieu to the fading year with new-age technology blueprints under its sleeve!

Far removed from its rich heritage, cultural and historical latitude, calendar 2023 served as a springboard to Lucknow to leapfrog into a domain of cutting edge Artificial Intelligence (AI) vision and powered by e-mobility roadmap, thus contributing to the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ (self reliant) theme of the Government of India.

Catalysing its agenda of developing Lucknow as India’s first AI City, the Uttar Pradesh government has started the process of picking up a private partner to develop and operate the proposed hitech hub.

A 40-acre land parcel has been identified, overlooking the Lucknow international airport on the busy Lucknow-Kanpur highway.

Lucknow’s AI City will encompass a holistic value chain to investors operating in the spectrum of AI, Machine Learning (ML), blockchain etc and spanning startups, data centre, data analytics, AI based training, data forensics etc.

Nodal agency UP Electronics Corporation Limited (UPECL) has drafted an action plan for the development of an AI City in Lucknow, and to pitch the state capital as a leading information technology (IT) hub in Asia.

To boost such hitech projects, the UP government has partnered with leading educational and research organisations including Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur; Indian Institute of Management (IIM), Lucknow; and APJ Abdul Kalam Technical University (AKTU), Lucknow as knowledge partners.

UPECL has invited applications from big developers under the UP Electronics Manufacturing Policy for the design, development and operation of the AI City, according to a senior government official.

The state will accord priority to developers, whose annual turnover is to the tune of Rs 1,000 crore, and provide a slew of incentives. It includes one-time capital expenditure support of 25 percent, and up to a maximum of Rs 20 crore for the IT Park. For the IT City project, the developer will get a capex support of up to Rs 100 crore.

Additionally, 100 percent stamp duty waiver along with non-financial aid for lease rental, cloud service cost, electricity charges and bandwidth expenses will be provided under the existig IT and ITES Policy.

Meanwhile, commercial vehicle maker Ashok Leyland will invest more than Rs 1,000 crore in an integrated electric bus manufacturing plant in Lucknow. A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed between the state and the multinational company.

The proposed plant is likely to be set up at the site of defunct Scooters India Limited (SIL) plant on the Lucknow-Kanpur highway. Initially, the plant will have the capacity to produce 2,500 e-buses per year, which will be gradually expanded up to 5,000 vehicles over the next decade.

In fact, Ashok Leyland plans to convert its entire fleet of diesel buses and commercial vehicles into electric and other alternative fuels in future. The Lucknow plant will foster its green mobility roadmap for India. Apart from manufacturing e-buses, the plant will assemble other vehicles operated by emerging alternative fuels.

Moreover, Lucknow constitutes one of the six nodes of the UP Defence Manufacturing Corridor, and is home to the prestigious BrahMos missile plant. The six nodes comprise Lucknow, Kanpur, Jhansi, Aligarh, Chitrakoot and Agra.

The BrahMos plant is already being developed and the missiles once produced will be supplied to the Indian defence forces. BrahMos is a joint venture between India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Russia’s NPOM.

“The BrahMos project in Lucknow is a milestone defence manufacturing project. It will not only be revolutionary in technology, but will ensure thousands of jobs are created in the state,” UP industrial development minister Nand Gopal Gupta Nandi had said earlier.

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India, which is among the top defence ware importers, is eyeing $5 billion exports in defence manufacturing in near future.

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