| Muthuraman, Deveshwar and Munda at the CII meeting in Beldih Club. Picture by Uma Shankar Dubey
Jamshedpur, Sept. 10: Chief minister Arjun Munda today kept himself airborne among a group of captains of industry by disclosing a surprise proposal for an international airport near Jamshedpur and confirming a plan for flights to other key cities in the region.
The chief minister said that he has approached the Centre for building an international airport near the city. 'It will give an impetus to further industrialisation in the mineral-rich Singhbhum region,' he told an interactive session on the inaugural day of the national council meeting of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).
This is the first time the chief minister has made such an announcement. Jamshedpur now has only an aerodrome at Sonari.
The chief minister said commercial flights would soon take off from Jamshedpur, drawing loud applause from the participants who included some of the most high-profile names of Indian business.
Sanjay Budhia, the chairman of the CII national council on exports, asked the chief minister about the initiatives that his government is taking to link Jamshedpur with other parts of the country.
'Commercial flights would soon start from Jamshedpur, connecting the city with Calcutta, Bhubaneswar, Bokaro and Ranchi. We have completed the necessary formalities for entering into a memorandum of understanding with Air Deccan for starting commercial flights from Jamshedpur,' Munda said. The pact will be signed by the end of October.
After a brief pause, the chief minister sprang the airport proposal but did not give details.
Munda looked confident as he painstakingly answered questions at the 30-minute session. He often won applause but also ran into some tricky queries. More than 50 industrialists and CEOs, including ITC chairman Y.C. Deveshwar, Godrej and Boyce chairman Jamshed Godrej and Toyota Kirloskar Motors vice-chairman Vikram S. Kirloskar took part in the interactive session.
'It was our first interaction with the Jharkhand chief minister. The way he addressed us shows that he is enthusiastic about the industrialisation of the state. Our council members will hold discussions with him to find out the strengths of the state so that they could be utilised for the industrialisation of the state,' said CII national president, S.K. Munjal.
Madhur Bajaj, the vice-chairman of Bajaj Auto, wanted to know how Jharkhand is different from other states in terms of policy-making, infrastructure and providing industrial packages.
The chief minister steered clear of a specific answer but held aloft industrial harmony by citing the example of Tata Steel. 'Tata Steel is one of the greatest examples of industry-labour relations in the state,' he said.
Jamshed J. Irani, director, Tata Sons, said: 'The government's intentions are positive. The state has no dearth of mineral resources, power, water and other infrastructure. But one thing which is lacking is flexibility in laws, which is in the hands of the government.'
Munda could only reply that the industrial policy has been fully implemented, the results of which would be seen in the days to come.
Tata Steel managing director B. Muthuraman then said it was due to the Munda government's initiative that a tripartite agreement was signed between Jusco, Tata Power and JSEB for supplying electricity in some of the peripheral areas of the city.
Munda said efforts are being made to set up a special economic zone and turn the state into a power hub.
He accepted a suggestion from B.K. Jhawar, the chairman of Usha Martin group of industries, that the state should have a forum on economic development which can offer guidance on issues like rural development, mining, industry and hospitality.