Chhattisgarh is set to hold its first meeting of global investors. Rajesh Munat, the state’s industries minister, says the state plans to do more than just sign memoranda of understanding (MoUs). To offer the best returns to people, it is considering encouraging downstream industries. Edited excerpts:
What would the theme of the investors’ meeting be?
Chhattisgarh would hold its first global investors’ meet on November 2 and 3. The state government has decided to encourage downstream industries and has identified nine sectors to be promoted for drawing investment into the state. These include information technology and related areas, biotech, banking, food processing, herbal products and automobiles. Much has been done in the state’s core sector. The government now wants to add value to the aluminium and steel produced here.
Does this mean the door to core industries in the state has been closed?
The state has already reached the saturation point in drawing investment into the core sector. We already account for about 17 per cent of the country’s cement and 19 per cent of its iron. Chhattisgarh is emerging as the country’s power hub. There is not much scope in the steel, cement and power sectors. Therefore, the state government envisages promoting industries based on adding value to steel and aluminium.
How would this help the state?
The primary purpose of promoting downstream industries is to generate job opportunities for the people of the state. If an automobile manufacturing facility is set up in the state, it would be followed by a number of ancillary units. These would create a lot of jobs. The food processing unit has a lot of potential; it van ensure direct and indirect employment. The Dhamtari mandi accounts for transaction of Rs 700- 1,000 crore of forest produce a year; it has emerged as Asia’s largest mandi.
Core sector industries in the state allege the government is negligent towards them.
All industries set up in the state have been provided benefits according to the state’s industrial policy. The government has delivered what it had committed in the policy. A few industries may be facing problems because of certain reasons. Sponge iron units in the state are reeling under a crisis and the issue involves state-run National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC). Local industries are not getting sufficient iron ore from NMDC. The state government has been saying before exporting the iron-ore mined from the state, NMDC should first address the requirements of local industries. The efforts of the state government have yielded results. NMDC has enhanced the quota of iron ore for local industries. In fact, the quantity is still in-sufficient and the state government has taken up the issue with the Union government.
Has the government designed any special package for downstream units?
Yes, the Chhattisgarh government had recently unveiled separate policies for five sectors — information technology, agriculture and food processing, solar energy, urban reforms and automotives. These policies would be separate from the state’s industrial policy. The state government had addressed all issues in that policy, and it is better than the policies of other states. The features of the policy would attract downstream industries.
Have you set any investment target for downstream industries?
For the first time, a global investors’ meeting is being organised in the state. Downstream industries would be promoted. But it is not possible to specify how much investment we expect. Had it been the core sector, the state government could claim investment worth Rs 10,000 crore was expected. But this is difficult in the downstream sector. The government has not set a target to sigh only MoUs. We want to help the unemployed people in the state. We have invited a host of global Fortune 500 companies and are hopeful the event would be turning point in the prosperity and growth of Chhattisgarh.