'Power shortage not a problem; we expect Rs 4 lakh cr investment'

The Inquirer

'Power shortage not a problem; we expect Rs 4 lakh cr investment'

The government had planned the meet for early 2009. Following economic recession, it was postponed.

The S M Krishna led Congress government had organised a similar meet in 2000, which attracted over Rs 23,000 crore of investment in different sectors to the state. This time, the Yeddyurappa-led BJP government has aimed at luring a much larger investment.

Satish Shile of Deccan Herald spoke to Minister for Industries Murugesh Nirani about the state’s expectations from the GIM and  the investment possibilities. Excerpts:

What do you expect from the GIM 2010?

The industries department had conducted road shows in different parts of India and abroad to project Karnataka as a suitable destination for investment. Our priority sectors are - power, IT & BT, steel and food processing. The response is huge and encouraging. We are expecting to sign in memoranda of understanding (MoUs) for investments to the tune of Rs 4 lakh crore. More than 3,000 industrialists will attend the event. The government is proposing to the investors to set up industries in backward areas identified by the Dr D M Nanjundappa committee.

How different is this meet from the previous one held in 2000?

That was 10 years ago. The total investments, for which MoUs were signed then, was Rs 23,000 crore. Of that, about Rs 12,000 crore was actually invested. Considering the investments we are expecting this time, the last time’s response is negligible. Even if 60 per cent of the MoUs (we will be signing this time) are executed in the next three years at least 5 lakh people will get employment and the economy of the state will improve dramatically.

Why would investors come to Karnataka?

Karnataka has great potential for investments. Raw material for steel industries is available in abundance. Skilled labour, ranging from diploma holders to MBA graduates, are available in huge numbers. The government is providing an investor-friendly environment. These reasons are enough to attract the investors.

How will you ensure implementation of the projects for which MoUs will be signed?

Projects cleared by the government have two to three years’ time to execute them. Officers of the industries department would be appointed nodal officers for the projects. They would keep in touch with the investors and attend to problems pertaining to getting approvals from other departments, if any. I personally meet the investors and listen to them. Our objective is to ensure that a large number of projects come to Karnataka.

Recently South Korea’s Posco hinted at dropping the idea of setting up its steel plant in Karnataka. Why?

The company has not yet made any decision on the project. They wanted a letter of sanctioning mining lease in advance so that they come to Karnataka. We made it clear that the letter could not be issued in advance. They have gone back saying that they will convey us their decision. Even if they do not turn up, we do not worry.

From now onwards we have decided not to clear steel plant projects, which require mining leases. Let us retain iron ore for the next generations. The neighbouring China has been importing iron ore from other countries. It has not yet exploited its own resources.

Karnataka is facing shortage of power and land. How will you convince the investors?

Shortage of power will not be a problem in about three years. Many mega industries, lined up to invest in Karnataka are coming up with their captive generation plants. There would not be additional burden on the state. In addition, MoUs for power generation units, with a total capacity of 12,000 MW will be signed at the GIM. Once these projects are implemented, the state would be producing excess power.

The water resources department will audit the requirement of water in each industry and make arrangements accordingly. As of now the problem is not serious. The department had made installation of rainwater harvesting system and adoption of water saving techniques compulsory for industries. We are also promoting use of recycled water to meet the shortage of water.

There is resistance from the public to part with their lands for industries. How do you tackle that problem?

We are the first state in the country to form a land bank. Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB) has already notified 64,000 acres of land. Another 50,000 acres of land is identified. We are in the process of bringing in a system where industries will get land allotted to them within 24 hours after the project is cleared. Only in a few areas the public are opposing to part with their lands. Our officers will settle the issue by holding one on one meetings with the land owners. We are identifying only barren or single crop lands for industries. The government is also offering attractive compensation packages for the land losers. They get compensation both in cash and in the form of developed land.

Why can’t you emulate Gujarat, which stands first in attracting investments in the country?

We are also bringing in effective measures to ease the process to give clearances for projects and allot land at the earliest as in Gujarat. During the last GIM held by Gujarat government MoUs of projects worth Rs 2 lakh crore were cleared. Whereas Karnataka is attracting Rs 4 lakh crore investment. In terms of investment, ours will be the biggest such event in the country’s history.

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