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Industry alarm over turmoil

The industrial sector’s woes have been compounded owing to the change of leadership.

The ongoing political ambiguity in Bihar after the recently concluded general election, the resignation of Nitish Kumar and naming of Jitan Ram Manjhi as the new chief minister have been termed dangerous by industry bodies as well as businessmen. Many industrialists feel investments in the state would shrink.

On Monday evening, Nitish named Manjhi as the next chief minister of the state.

Lesi was included after former industries minister Renu Kumari resigned from the cabinet on March 11 following her husband Vijay Kumar Singh’s decision to join the BJP.

“Renu had been the industries minister since 2010. She had been doing a fairly good job since she understood the department. Investments, though small, were trickling in and the state government too had shown a lot of interest in the sector. However, the recent political turmoil has come as a jolt,” an industrialist told The Telegraph.

P.K. Agarwal, the president of the Bihar Chamber of Commerce and Industries, echoed a similar sentiment. “In such cases, the effects are bad. The investments automatically stop as no one wants to invest in a politically unstable state. Those who already have units here would not think of expansion owing to an uncertain future,” Agarwal said.

Sources said Lesi had visited her department only a few times and is yet to meet any representative of the industry bodies. “There has been just one State Investment Promotion Board meeting in the past three months. There is also a problem regarding Private Industry Area with project management agencies yet to be appointed,” a source said.

Sources added that even if Lesi retained the industries department, she would have to start from scratch. “She, not having attended office regularly, needs to be acquainted first with the work. There is no information on completion of the Rs 120 crore Carlsberg brewery in Bihta, which authorities claimed, would be ready by the first quarter of this year,” the source added.

Satyajeet Kumar, the chairperson of the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Bihar, said: “Last year’s growth rate has been reduced to eight per cent — half compared to last year. Fresh elections should be conducted so that a stable government could work for the growth of the state,” Satyajeet said.