| The iconic Taj Mahal Palace hotel in Mumbai |
Patna, Sept. 18: The Taj group has been given the green light to set up a five-star property in the city for which it would have to find land on its own, a seemingly insurmountable hurdle for potential investors in the hospitality sector.
The nod to the Tata-owned group was among 102 proposals cleared at a meeting of the State Investment Promotion Board today, said Afzal Amanullah, principal secretary, industries.
Strangely for a state capital, Patna doesn’t have a single five-star property. Besides being a key commercial centre, Patna is of major historical importance being the gateway to the Buddhist circuit of Rajgir and Bodhgaya as also tourism destinations like Nalanda and Vaishali.
The Taj proposal is for a five-star hotel in Patna to be set up with an investment of Rs 92 crore. Following the board approval, the group can now start looking at land prices and availability of resources.
“As many as 102 projects worth Rs 16,149 crore were okayed by the board. The hotel, a five-star property, will be set up by the Taj group in Patna. Another proposal for setting up a three-star property in Aurangabad district (150km from Patna) has also been cleared,” Amanullah said.
The bureaucrat, however, was quick to send out the signal that the government would offer all help to the Taj group in securing land. “When it comes to small-scale industries, Biada (Bihar Industrial Area Development Authority) can allot land as per rules and regulations. But for the bigger industries, they will have to look for the land themselves and the government will help them in this,” he added.
Since 2006, the investment promotion board has cleared at least 14 proposals for hotels, some of them five-star properties, in Patna. However, less than half that number has come up, primarily because land has been difficult to get.
At the first meeting of the Bihar State Industrial Investment Advisory Council on Saturday, India Inc. luminaries like Infosys chairman K.V. Kamath and HDFC boss Deepak Parekh had cited power and land as the major impediments for big-ticket investments in the state. The council identified tourism as one of the potential growth areas for the state and stressed on the constructions of hotels, especially budget properties, in different destinations.
Tourism minister Sunil Kumar “Pintu” told The Telegraph that his department will coordinate with other ministries to ensure land is facilitated without any hiccups. “Land disputes have been a problem but the tourism and industries departments will coordinate. We will ensure that investors don’t face any problems when it comes to land,” he said.
O.P Sah, president, Bihar Chamber of Commerce, has a solution to the vexing land problem. “The mantra for success is make the owner of the land, may be one or a group of persons, partners in the project,” he said.