Chief minister Nitish Kumar at a book launch in Mumbai on Saturday. (PTI)
Patna, Oct. 19: Industrialists today raised concerns about the lack of availability of land and power, the two main hurdles in the way of investments in the state.
Members of the Bihar State Industrial Investment Advisory Council, which held its second meeting in Mumbai today, said that though the power situation in the state had improved, transmission and distribution losses in the sector were still high. But land, they stressed, remained the biggest worry.
The meeting, the second after September 15 last year, was held at the Hotel Trident and was presided over by chief minister Nitish Kumar.
Among those who attended were HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh, ICICI MD Chanda Kochhar, Axis Bank CEO Shikha Sharma, Vedanta Resources chairman Anil Agarwal, ITC chairman Y.C Deveshwar, Godrej chairman and MD Jamshyd Godrej and Sebi chairman U.K Sinha.
The government made several PowerPoint presentations regarding the work done in the different departments, especially the power sector.
But the government didn’t have too many answers when the question of land was raised.
“The chief minister talked about the recent Raghuram Rajan report and told the industrialists about the letter he had written to Union finance minister P. Chidambaram. He added that with the Land Acquisition Bill passed by the Centre, the state government would incur higher cost if they acquire land. In effect, he asked industrialists to get their own land. In such a scenario, nothing new has been offered to potential investors. The chief minister acknowledged that land was a problem area but said the government was taking some steps to solve the issue. We raised the issue of non-cooperation of banks and the low cash-deposit ratio in the state,” Satyajit Kumar, the chairman of the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry for Bihar, told The Telegraph.
Apart from Satyajit, senior office-bearers of the Bihar Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Bihar Industries Association and Confederation of Indian Industry (Bihar), were called into the meeting as special invitees.
But the government is hopeful that investments will take place.
Industries minister Renu Devi said ITC Limited had said they would set up a food processing unit if they get at least 40 acres of land in or around Patna.
ITC chairman Deveshwar had said in the meeting that they were searching for land in the state for around two months but to no avail.
The minister said the company would be given land immediately.
“They have expressed the desire to set up a project and land is available. We have had talks with some farmers in Ara and they have expressed the desire to give around 250 acres of land for industries. We expect that ITC will come soon and the land will be immediately provided to them. Land is also available in Mokama. If an industrialist is serious about investing in Bihar, he will get land. Just staying away by mentioning problems in the state will not do any good,” she said.
Officials of the Mumbai-based Shrenuj Group, which opened its Rs 600-crore diamond cutting and polishing centre at the Patliputra Industrial Area in May this year, said they were satisfied to be in Bihar.