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Investment challenges for Nitish

Chief minister Nitish Kumar’s recent critical stand against the Congress and the Raghuram Rajan committee report has pulled the big-ticket investment dreams of the state backwards with industrialists feeling that Bihar will have to play with the present resources.

However, hopes are not over as the state plans to hold a special investors’ meet in New Delhi on the sidelines of the three-day Pravasi Bharatiya Divas.

Nitish, while speaking during a programme organised by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) in Delhi on Monday, said he was not fully satisfied with the Rajan report, released in September, which had been dumped in the cold storage by the Centre.

The report had put Bihar in the list of least developed states and also talked about providing additional assistance to poorer states suggesting new parameters to decide on which states should be getting the most central financial assistance. Nitish welcomed the report when it had been released.

“The chief minister himself is claiming that the Rajan committee report has almost been shelved. He also added that the state’s demand for a special status will continue and the same will bring big-ticket investments for us. With Nitish being critical of Congress now and the Lok Sabha elections knocking at the doors, it very well seems that the future of big-ticket investments in the state is grim in the coming year. The JD(U) and Congress seem to be distancing themselves, something which is not a good sign for the industries sector. In such a scenario now, things could be back to square one with the state having to think of something fresh and new to attract investors,” a Patna-based industrialist said on Tuesday.

When it comes to resources, the state’s branches were limited.

“As said and repeated, the state’s major handicap is land. Power has improved but land continues to give jolts. Unless the land availability situation improves and the state seriously strives for the same, Bihar should forget about any big-ticket investments. Other resources can be created but the land issue is something which needs a new thinking,” he added.

With the state floating the Private Industrial Area Policy for the same, there was a silver lining though. Arun Agarwal, the president of the Bihar Industries Association (BIA), said the first special purpose vehicle (SPV) towards the realisation of the policy has been formed.

“A few landowners have formed an SPV in Mokama with a total land of around 32 acres. We have forwarded the same to the State Investment Proposal Board (SIPB) for an approval. The BIA is trying to add more people in the same so that the total land area reaches around 50 acres. The land is located in the Mokama area on outskirts of Patna,” Agarwal said.

As per the policy, entrepreneurs wishing to set up private industrial area would at least require a minimum of 25 acres of land for the purpose through an SPV under the Bihar State Industrial Incentive Policy, 2011.

Any investor searching for land can contact the SPV directly and strike a deal.

Sources said the state was planning to hold a special investors’ meet on January 10 as part of the three-day Pravasi Bharatiya Divas celebrations.