Once bitten, Karnataka not shy to woo investors again

Once bitten, Karnataka not shy to woo investors again

Unfazed by the poor record of implementing the investment proposals that were flagged at the previous Global Investors' Meet (GIM 2010), the Karnataka government is pulling all stops to again woo investors at GIM 2012 June 7-8, with an ambitious target of grabbing a whopping Rs.6 trillion ($133 billion) investments this time.

Setting aside the simmering political crisis in the faction-ridden ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which marred governance in the state over the last four years, Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda is leading from the front to showcase Karnataka as 'one state, many opportunities' for attracting investors from across the country and overseas.

"Though we were able to attract Rs.3.92 lakh crore (Rs.3.92 trillion) worth investment proposals from 389 global and Indian firms, only 31 projects have been implemented so far at a combined cost of Rs.5,700 crore, providing jobs to about 28,000 people," Industries Minister Murgesh Nirani told IANS, ahead of the two-day event at the Bangalore International Exhibition Centre (BIEC) on the city outskirts.
With the steel industry and mining sector mired in scams and legal battles during the last two years, after the Supreme Court banned mining iron ore in the state, investment proposals worth Rs.2.56 trillion (Rs.2.56 lakh crore) from 55 global and Indian firms for setting up steel plants and power projects failed to materialise.
"Of the remaining 300 projects, involving Rs.1.36 trillion (Rs.136,000 crore) investments, 225 projects in diverse sectors are at various stages of implementation. We are doing our best to ensure these projects are executed in the next two years to create jobs and contribute to the socio-economic development of the state," an unfazed Nirani asserted.

Among the 55 global and Indian firms that signed agreements with the state government in June 3-4, 2010, amid fanfare, were the world's largest steel maker Arcelor Mittal, Posco of Korea, Surya Vijayanagar Steel Ltd, Bhushan Steel Ltd and Brahamani Industries Karnataka Ltd of the jailed former state minister G. Janardhana Reddy.

"In view of the lessons we have learnt from GIM 1.0 version and problems we have faced since then, we have omitted steel and mining sectors from GIM 2.0 version for investments. Instead, we are focusing on sectors spanning knowledge-based industries, manufacturing, services, agriculture and infrastructure especially power, roads, ports and airports," Nirani pointed out.

Unlike in GIM 2010, when the focus was on the muddled steel and mining sectors at the cost of other sectors, the state industry department (Udyog Mitra) has identified 14 sectors, including ICT, electronics, aerospace and defence, automobiles, textiles, pharma and health, power, agro-tech and food processing and tourism and hospitality for GIM 2012, with an employment potential for about one million people.

"We have recently approved about 30 projects worth Rs.1.47 trillion (Rs.1.47 lakh crore) investments that will create jobs for about 300,000 people in sectors spanning cement, energy, aerospace, IT, electronics and urban infrastructure. Besides existing investors such as Tatas, Birlas, JSW group, GVK Reddy group, Toyota Kirloskar and Ascendas, about 80 Fortune 500 firms, including Reliance group have evinced interest in investing in the state in growth-oriented sectors," Nirani claimed.

In the run-up to the mega event, the state government conducted road shows in Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Hyderabad and in Dubai, Singapore and Japan to flag the state and its investor-friendly policies with special packages to be doled out case-by-case for attracting investments in specific industries with huge scope for job creation and exports.

"We have an eco-system that is conducive for industry and businesses. As a premier investment destination for knowledge-based industries, the state has emerged as a hub for IT, BT(biotech), electronics hardware, aerospace, solar energy and nanotechnology," Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda said in a personal letter to leading investors across the country and overseas.

As part of the event, the state government is also holding a three-day 'GIM Expo' at the BIEC venue from Wednesday to showcase its strengths, infrastructure facilities, pro-active industrial policies,incentives, human capital, land bank and natural resources.

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