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Lucknow, Sep 6 (IANS) After announcing measures to modernise the traditional 'attar' (perfume) production in Kannauj, Uttar Pradesh has now set its eyes on its other traditional business stronghold, Firozabad, known for its glass bangles.
Sources say that the state government officials have held meetings with over 50 Japanese entrepreneurs in New Delhi over the past one month with plans to "breach the bangle city tag and go beyond".
The government has offered them investment opportunities in the planned industrial area on 400 acres of barren land lying in Firozabad and has assured the industrialists that the city would soon be developed on the lines of Greater Noida, an industrial hub adjoining the national capital.
Confirming this, Surya Pratap Singh, principal secretary (Industrial and Infrastructure Development), told IANS: "Firozabad was a natural extension to Greater Noida due to its proximity to the Yamuna Expressway and the proposed Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC) which will be passing through it."
"It is about time that we take benefit of the strides in the infrastructure sector to position Firozabad on the global map, something which it rightly deserves," the official added.
He further said that "logistics hubs" have been envisaged in a three-kilometre radius around six railway stations proposed on the EDFC. The Uttar Pradesh State Industrial Development Corporation (UPSIDC) has since agreed to purchase the land for the new industrial area in Firozabad.
Firozabad District Magistrate Sandhya Tiwari said arrangements for the land will be made at the earliest. Other officials said that a "line of communication" has been opened with many foreign governments and state officials recently met the Kyrgyzstan ambassador to India with some "concrete offers".
"We can transform the industrial scenario of Firozabad and for that 400 acres of land would be identified outside the Taj Trapezium Zone (TTZ)," Surya Pratap Singh said while underlining the importance of the Amritsar-Delhi-Kolkata Industrial Corridor on the proposed EDFC.
Firozabad lies on the alignment of EDFC, providing immense scope for developing it as an industrial hub with investments. "To further encourage the industries and employment in the Firozabad region, an IT zone is envisaged on 100 acres within the TTZ as it is a non-polluting sector," an official said.
Officials have also been directed to regularly meet local entrepreneurs and settle their problems.
All India Glass Manufacturers Association president S.C. Bansal, while admitting that the state's efforts were welcome, said that Uttar Pradesh held the centrestage in exports of handicrafts and artifacts and glassware of Firozabad was one of the most important components contributing to earn foreign exchange.
"We need to enhance the brand equity of Firozabad glassware by upgrading technology and skill and by adding value to the finished products. I am happy that the state is now focussed on enabling industrial development," Bansal added.
Firozabad is named after Firoz Shah, a mansabdar (imperial official) in the Mughal period. At present, there are around 92 industrial units in production in the five industrial areas of Firozabad, Shikohabad, Usaini, Tundla and Jalesar road in the district.
There is around 92 hectares of developed land and allotted to industries. Apart from industrial areas, out of 7,874 industrial units registered in the district, only ten are in the large and medium category. The rest are small-scale industries, employing between them over 50,000 people with investment of around Rs.383 crore.
Glass units now use natural gas after the Supreme Court had banned coal-based units due to pollution. Nearly 180 units are registered with GAIL for being supplied with gas for industrial use.
There are 85 export-oriented units registered with District Industries Centre Export Promotion Bureau, Lucknow, and during the last five years, total exports have amounted to Rs 803.65 crore. Exports during 2012-13 were at Rs 210.55 crore.
Firozabad is politically important too as Akshay Yadav, son of the ruling Samajwadi Party's spokesman and secretary Ram Gopal Yadav is eyeing a Lok Sabha seat from here in the 2014 general elections. Dimple Yadav, wife of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav, unsuccessfully contested the parliamentary polls from here some years ago. Film actor-turned-politician Raj Babbar is the sitting Lok Sabha MP from Firozabad.
(Mohit Dubey can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)