'Gujarat has necessary infrastructure for starting a new project'
Gujarat saw a flurry of big projects with huge investments in most of the core economic sectors in the recent past, with emphasis on the energy sector. If state Industry Minister Anilbhai Tribhovandas Patel )is to be believed, it is infrastructure that kick starts any large project. In a candid interview with Manojit Saha, the US-returned engineer and former CMD of Apollo Industries unveils his government's plans to make Gujarat the most investor-friendly destination in the country. Excerpts from the interview:
What makes Gujarat one of the most favoured investment destinations in the country?
Gujarat has the necessary infrastructure for starting a new project. Infrastructure in terms of connectivity i.e. well developed highways connecting north, east and south corridors of the state. The unique feature of the state, however, is the development of minor ports. The minor ports handle about 80 per cent of the total cargo handled in Gujarat.
Which areas does the government plan to boost in future?
With the availability of Narmada water, the prospect of agro-processing industry has become brighter, especially in north Gujarat, in the areas of Saurashtra and Kachchh. The government will pay attention to developing those industries.
To encourage the small agro-based rural industries, the government has launched Jyoti Gram Yogna to supply 24-hour uninterrupted power in all villages.
Cutting and polishing of diamond is another traditional sector of the state. Hence, the government is encouraging gems and jewellery industry.
The government has taken the initiative for SEZs in the state. As a result, Gujarat already has two SEZs, at Kandla and Surat. The Government of India has, in principle, approved SEZs at Mundra and Dahej. The government also plans to have an SEZ at Hazira. Moreover, sector-specific smaller SEZs for garment, pharmaceuticals, gems and jewellery are also in the offing.
Gujarat will be the petro capital of the country in the near future, with the spread of gas grid all over the state. With the proposed gas pipeline connecting north and south of the state, both industry and domestic parties will benefit.
The government also plans to give thrust to the tourism sector by promoting event-based tourism. We would like to tap natural resources to encourage tourism.
How successful was the recent 'Vibrant Gujarat'?
'Vibrant Gujarat' was definitely a success. Expressions of Interest for 76 project proposals worth of Rs 66,000 crore have been received. Major proposals have been received in sectors like oil and gas, ports and power.
In the ports sector, two ports at Simar and Vansi-Borsi will be developed.
In the oil and gas sector, gas distribution projects in Jamnagar, Navsari-Valsad, Banaskantha, Bhavnagar and Junagadh are in the pipeline.
What about promoting sectors of the so-called "new economy"?
Promoting IT and biotechnology are also on the agenda of the state government. We are putting up a biotechnology park at Savli near Baroda in association with M.S. University of Baroda. Infocity is also coming up in Gandhinagar.
How will your government tap NRI investments, which has not been happening for a long time?
About 50 per cent of the NRIs in various parts of the globe are Gujaratis. The government eyes huge potential among them so far as big investments are concerned. The Government of Gujarat organised shows for the Indian Diaspora, in which more than 3,000 NRIs investors participated. The government is trying to generate more interest among the NRIs through this kind of programmes.
(16-29 Feb 04)