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Despite dismal record, Jharkhand readies for Global Investors Summit

Himalayan Paths

By Nityanand Shukla
Ranchi, Feb 7 (IANS)
Despite a dismal track record in implementing projects — 74 of 125 MoUs have fallen through since 2005 — Jharkhand is readying for its first Global Investors Summit on February 16-17, with the opposition Congress charging the Raghubar Das-led BJP government of spending “more than Rs 100 crore” on the event.

The 74 MoUs of projects that fell through would have brought in Rs 2.93 lakh crore ($43 billion) of the approximately Rs 5 lakh crore promised, and would have catapulted Jharkhand from a tottering rural economy to a vibrant, industrialised state.

Of the projects that got off the ground, only one — that of Jindal Steel, with an investment of Rs 10,000 crore — is actually up and running, while the others have been stalled largely due to problems relating to land acquisition or have shut down due to a variety of reasons.

Most importantly, two ultra-mega power projects (UMPPs) — Hazaribagh and Deoghar — are hanging in balance. Between them, they would have generated slightly less than 8,000 MW of power.

In sum, had all the projects fructified, urbanisation would have gathered pace as they would have seen the growth of 100 townships and the creation of 600,000 new jobs.

Arcelor Mittal, owned by steel king Laxmi Niwas Mittal, had proposed an investment of Rs 40,000 crore for a 12 million tonnes per annum steel plant. However, the ambitious project has been stuck for a while now as the company managed to acquire just 10 acres of land in Petarwar block of Bokaro district.

Moreover, it did not show any interest in inking the second-level MoU as the earlier agreement inked with the company was cancelled after the state government came out with the new industrial policy in 2012. The company, on its part, has merely hinted that it would look into the project after it manages to bag iron-ore mines.

Mega projects of Adani, Vedanta and Tata Steel are also stuck due to land-related issues. The Adani group needs 1,600 acres for its Rs 20,000 crore power plant, and also 2,000 acres more for its coal and gas project.

Jindal’s proposed power plant in Pathargama of Godda district has also failed to see any progress as there is a dispute over the land needed for the project. The Tatas, too, are facing various land-related hurdles to expand their projects in the state.

Others, including Vallabh Steel (Gamharia), Pawanjay Steel (Lohardaga), Adhunik Steel (Gamharia), Kanti Steel (Galudih), Neelanchal Steel (Kandra) and Abhijeet Group (Saraikela) have shut their plants due to one reason or another.

Now, to make state investor-friendly, the Jharkhand government has amended two land acts to ease the acquisition process.

Little wonder, then, that the opposition is not amused.

“More than Rs 100 crore will be spent on the investors summit. The state government has failed to create a proper environment for investors. Many industries have been closed after the BJP government led by Raghubar Das came to power in the state,” Jharkhand Congress General Secretary Kishore Sahdeo told IANS.

“Instead of making efforts to avoid closure of the industries, Raghubar Das spent crores of rupees on holding road shows and touring foreign countries. Jharkhand is one of the states where criminals have a free hand. Every day rape and murder cases are reported in the state. On an average, two to three girls are raped in the state,” he added, maintaining that the dismal law and order situation was showing the state in poor light.

The BJP, however, is having none of this.

“We have to move forward from past experience. Now Jharkhand has a stable government and the political situation has changed. Jharkhand’s rating has improved. In the current political scenario, there is an environment in favour of investors,” Jharkhand BJP spokesperson J.B. Tubid told IANS.

It’s a different thing that Jharkhand’s ranking in ease of doing business and luring investors has slipped from the third to seventh position, according to an October statement by the Union Commerce and Industry’s Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP).

Undeterred, the state government is wholeheartedly backing the “Momentum Jharkhand” investors summit that is being promoted in a big way on TV by former India captain M.S. Dhoni, and has as its logo a pink elephant. Critics are hoping the projects its brings do not turn into white elephants.

(Nityanand Shukla can be contacted at [email protected])

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