With a number of Indian states lining up here at the WEF Annual Meeting to woo investors, Karnataka Chief Minister B S Bommai on Wednesday said his state is the "safest place to do business" and it is not competing domestically but at the international level and listed hydrogen and ammonia fuel as the next focus areas.
He also said that nearly half of the foreign companies present in India are already in Karnataka and all of them are planning to expand and diversify in the state while many more are evincing interest attracted by the robust infrastructure, and talent pool and ease of doing business in the state.
In an interview with PTI at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2022 here, Bommai said the process to decongest the state capital Bengaluru is underway by developing many adjoining areas as well as tier 2 and tier 3 cities while four more airports would be built this year.
"Karnataka story is different from other states," he said.
Talking about his visit here, Bommai said Davos experience has been excellent and he has witnessed that the international investor community has recognised India as an emerging economic giant and particularly Karnataka.
"In the aftermath of Covid-19, lockdowns and China's economic downfall, most of the countries are looking at India and their first destination in Karnataka and Bengaluru, because of a highly-tech ecosystem which we have, the highest number of R&D centres and our expertise in aerospace, defence, machinery tools and of course Information Technology and Biotechnology," he said.
"Also, we have got long-standing relations with most of the forward-looking countries, both in the European and American blocks. Almost 50 per cent of the foreign companies present in India are already in Karnataka. The state is also on the top in terms of the FDI flow in the last year, with almost 42 per cent share of the total flow coming into the country," he said.
Further, Bommai said that in niche areas like renewable energy, electric vehicles and battery storage, the state government has taken a lot of initiatives.
"We are aware of climate change and everyone needs to ensure that fossil emissions are limited therefore role of renewable energy is very important. Karnataka accounts for 63 per cent of renewable energy production," he said.
The chief minister said that most of the foreign companies already present in Karnataka are planning to expand and diversify in the state.
"Many of them have already approached us and we have cleared their plans while others are in the process of finalising their plans. Companies that are present in Karnataka will not go back or move to other states, because of the ecosystem and business-friendly atmosphere the state offers.
"Not a single one has any intention to leave, rather most of them have offered their expansion plans," he asserted.
Bommai listed semiconductors, hydrogen fuel and ammonia as among the other focus areas for the state going forward.
"A lot of companies are talking to us. The hydrogen fuel initiative is on the anvil. A strategic location and certain facilities are required, which we have offered to the companies.
"We have got a renewable energy policy. We are now getting into hydrogen fuel in a big way, and also creating ammonia from different sources. We will also look at exports," he said.
The Karnataka leader said that necessary infrastructure is being created for domestic as well as export purposes.
"We are also looking beyond Bengaluru for all these projects. We are also going to decongest Bengaluru. That is necessary and the work has already begun.
"We are looking at nearby areas to the state capital and also at tier-2 and tier-3 cities. We have got very good air connectivity and we are building another four airports this year," he added.
Bommai said that investors know very well that Karnataka is the safest place to do business with all the necessary infrastructure and support system.
"We are competing internationally, not at the domestic level. Companies present in the state are with us and very happy and we want them to invest more. Both the state and the entrepreneurs should benefit from our growth story," he added.