By BS Reporter
On its way to becoming the next important landmark in Gujarat's emerging automobile hub, Hansalpur on Saturday hosted Suzuki Motor Corporation's chief, Osamu Suzuki. Suzuki Motor is the Japanese parent of India's largest passenger car maker Maruti Suzuki India.
Also, the state government is planning to re-work its master plan for the Mandal-Bahucharaji special investment region (SIR), in order to accommodate Maruti's infrastructure requirements.
Hansalpur, which lies between Mehsana and Sanand-Viramgam area, is a part of the state's 500-square-km SIR plan, comprising 44 villages. A senior state official said the preliminary master plan is ready, and a detailed project report on the SIR would be ready by the end of December. "We plan to develop this as a manufacturing investment zone and, therefore, develop road, rail, power and gas infrastructure accordingly. Maruti has made a detailed presentation to the state and has indicated the infrastructure requirement. We are planning to develop the final project report keeping their requirements in mind", the official elaborated.
Osamu Suzuki, with senior Maruti Suzuki officials, met the Gujarat chief minister, Narendra Modi, and senior state bureaucrats on Friday. The company has indicated its infrastructure requirements, including the need for road, rail and power, among others. Apart from the Maruti plant, a vendor park housing both Japanese and Indian suppliers of the company is also planned in the vicinity. The state is working on a 600-hectare township, some distance away from the proposed site.
R C Bhargava, chairman, Maruti Suzuki India said: "Yesterday, we held a meeting with the industries minister and all senior officials of the government. They have made an elaborate plan as to the actions to be taken."
Bhargava was accompanying Suzuki on his maiden visit to Hansalpur. The site, 55 km from the Tata Nano factory at Sanand, now leads through a narrow single-lane road flanked by green farmland on both sides. Bhargava said, "The location is very good, we are happy. However, the road will require widening. It is there in the government's agenda."
Suzuki, who was keen to see the site, on Saturday took a trip round the perimeters of the proposed plant site. He was welcomed by the local villagers, led by their sarpanch Ajmalbhai Thakore. Admitting he did not expect a greeting from the villagers, Bhargava said, "The local people are very welcoming. It is a great benefit for any company wanting to make an investment in an area to get an environment this friendly."
Locals, like nearby resident Kirtibhai say, while land prices have shot through the roof, villagers sold for throw-away prices a year-and-a-half back when the government was acquiring land. The government has offered 640 acres to Maruti at Hansalpur from its own land bank.
Talking about the spiralling land prices, Kirtibhai said: "Land prices are around Rs 3 crore for an acre now; they were as low as Rs 2 lakh an acre four to five years back."
Hansalpur, however, is on its way for a face-lift. Many, like the local tea vendor Bachabhai, operating his shop from rented premises, are in for windfall gains as work on the Maruti site, as well as related infrastructure, begin. A commercial complex, 'Gaurav Plaza' is under construction 100 meters from the proposed site.