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Industry cabinet only on paper

The government’s lack of initiative in constituting a special industries cabinet has spelt woes for the sector and the hope for a roadmap.

Chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi on June 11 announced that a special cabinet would be formed for the industrial sector. It was to be on the lines of the agriculture cabinet constituted by Manjhi’s predecessor, Nitish Kumar, three years ago.

However, a month on the process to form the cabinet is yet to start.

Industries minister Bhim Singh, who was given the portfolio in the recent cabinet reshuffle, told The Telegraph it would be the chief minister’s discretion to form the cabinet.

Manjhi, during an interaction with industrialists on June 11, had announced that Bihar would get a special cabinet for industries. Called the Udyog cabinet, it would meet regularly to deal with the industries sector, he said.

The cabinet would comprise selected departments, on the lines of the krishi or agriculture cabinet started by former chief minister Nitish Kumar in 2011.

Lauded by industrialists, the announcement was termed commendable.

Bhim Singh although said: “The Udyog cabinet has not been constituted as of yet. It will be purely the chief minister’s call on what would be the cabinet’s features. Not much can be said in this connection right now.”

Sources in the department, however, said talks have been held about constituting the special cabinet.

“In the agriculture cabinet, there are 17 departments. Six meetings were held after which the agriculture roadmap was finalised. The process would be the same for the Udyog cabinet. At present, there have been some talks with the departments to be included in the new cabinet. For instance, departments like road and building construction, finance, land and revenue have to be brought together. The idea behind this is to come up with an industrial roadmap on the lines of the agriculture roadmap,” an industries department official told The Telegraph.

Added to the delay in forming the cabinet is lack of information on the third meeting of Bihar State Industrial Investment Advisory Council.

Formed in 2011, the council members include big names of India Inc. It is supposed to discuss prospective investments for the state apart from devising solutions to the problems in its path. Till now there have been two meetings, the last of which was chaired by Nitish in October last year.

Since then there has been no noise on the front. Minister Bhim Singh also said: “No date has been fixed for the council’s third meeting.”

Worried industrialists said it was important for the council to meet soon.

“The first two meetings of the council were not able to bring about very impressive investments but the meetings are important. These see a participation of big industrialists who talk about Bihar, the problems for the sector and solutions. There is always a chance of a big industry house to get interested if India Inc talks about Bihar from time to time. The last two meetings had seen the members of the council talking about the problems the power and land situation posed before industrialisation in Bihar. But now, Bihar has a private industrial area policy with two industrial areas been approved. A meeting of the council now would definitely be of significance as the state can also pitch the private industrial park policy before the members,” an industrialist said.


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