Delay in key projects bringing big-ticket investments to the state can end up benefiting the government in the poll season.
The Carlsberg and UB Group breweries and a dry port — all around Patna’s outskirts — have been delayed for different reasons. Only a state-of-the-art engineering college worth Rs 120 crore is on track. To be inaugurated on Thursday in Araria district, the Moti Babu Institute of Technology authorities look forward to starting the admission process soon.
But, three projects key to boosting industrialisation have not yet started. The projects, with a combined worth of around Rs 420 crore, are now expected to start operations in the next six to eight months, in time for Lok Sabha elections.
The dry port, also called an inland container depot, is coming up in Bihta, around 30km southwest of Patna. Recently, principal secretary, industries, Naveen Verma, said the project worth Rs 100 crore was stuck with the Union commerce ministry over certain formalities. During the project’s announcement in March, officials had said it would start operations in October.
The New Delhi-based Pristine Logistics and Infraprojects Pvt. Ltd. is bringing the dry port to the state. Rajnish Kumar, the director, said: “Work on the project has been escalated. There had been few delays but we are now trying to start the port by December. If not, it would definitely be opened for business by February-March 2014. This is the state’s first dry port and once completed, Bihar would get a big boost in industrialisation from here.”
The port will bring down the logistics cost, high at 16 per cent to the national or international figure of 8 per cent, the reason being Bihar’s land-locked topography, and help the state with exports. It would be connected through proper rail and road routes and also to the country’s seaports. There will be proper refrigerated storage containers and warehouses from where products can be moved to other ports after customs clearance.
Operations of the Carlsberg brewery coming up in Bihta have also been put off to the first quarter of 2014. During its launch on October 30 last year, it was expected to start late this year.
Soren Lauridsen, CEO, Carlsberg South Asia, told The Telegraph on Wednesday: “Work on starting the brewery is under progress. We hope to make it functional by first quarter of next year.” He did not specify reasons behind the delay. According to approval from the State Investment Promotion Board, the project is estimated at Rs 120 crore.
The troubled UB Group’s Rs 200 crore brewery in Naubatpur, around 25km southwest of Patna, is stuck in land problems. Supposed to start operations by now, the brewery would be completed by August next year, officials said.
An official of the group said: “We haven’t got any help from the state government. Bihar Industrial Area Development Authority provided us with 42 acres but did not even enquire about the problems we have been facing. The landowners kicked up a storm over the compensation and we had to pay extra to settle the issue. Only about 80 per cent of the boundary wall has been constructed, but the construction work cannot start until the problems are completely resolved. We hope it would be done by October this year. Then it would take at least nine months for the brewery to start operations.”
Industry sources said all these delays are an advantage for the government.
An industrialist told The Telegraph: “The delay in the projects is a boon for the government considering the fact that Assembly elections are slated for 2015. There has been a dearth of big-ticket investments in Bihar for a long time. The last major investment was setting up of the diamond cutting and polishing plant in Patna. The government claimed it brought an investment of Rs 600 crore. With these units starting production, the government — under pressure from different sectors — can boast of big time investments just before the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.”