Naveen Patnaik’s pledge to industry
Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday said the size of the state's economy would touch the one trillion dollar mark in a few years and some of the biggest names of India Inc announced their proposed investments in the state, suggesting that the target was achievable.
L.N. Mittal of ArcelorMittal, Anil Agarwal of Vedanta Resources, Sajjan Jindal of Jindal Steel, T.V. Narendran of Tata Steel and Karan Adani of the Adani Group were among those who announced the investments on Day Two of Make in Odisha business conclave.
During the plenary session of the chief minister with the CEOs and business leaders at the biennial investor summit, speaker after speaker committed more and more investments in the mineral-rich coastal state, which has emerged as a favourable investment destination in recent years.
"Odisha is destined to become a trillion-dollar economy in the near future and will emerge as the gateway to East and South East Asia," said Patnaik at the third edition of the state's showpiece summit.
He also made it clear that the future of Odisha was linked to its ability to attract investments. “We will walk along your side and make sure your dreams as entrepreneurs are realised. Odisha’s prosperity is interlinked with new investments," said Patnaik.
While reaching the magic figure means a 10-fold expansion of the state's economy, Sajjan Jindal, the chairman and the MD of JSW Group, has made it clear in his address that the state has the potential to achieve the target set by the chief minister, ruling Odisha for over 22 years.
"We were amongst the first ones to tap into the mines of Odisha and utilise the mineral resources. With a current mineral revenue of Rs 10,000-40,000 crore, we are sure that Odisha will soon be a trillion-dollar economy," said Jindal, who added that the Group had already committed investments of Rs 60,000 crore in the state.
The exposure of the Group in Odisha, which according to Jindal will progress in leaps and bounds in the coming years, will expand as he announced the company's intent to invest another Rs one lakh crore in the state. The Day Two of the conclave, held in Janata Maidan in the planned city of Bhubaneswar, witnessed several such announcements and inaugurations (see chart).
Besides, 21 MoUs between the government and different companies were exchanged and 46 Investment Intent Forms (IIF) were submitted to the industry department by the end of the day which also witnessed the release of the Industrial Policy Resolution 2022.
The Odisha government is betting big on the third edition of the show — the first two drew investment proposals of over Rs 2 lakh crore in 2016 and Rs 4.51 lakh crore in 2018 — in which the total value of investment intent is likely to cross over Rs 6 lakh crore.
"For us, the implementation of the proposals is more important... That's why we will announce the total volume investment proposals only after they are duly submitted through IIFs," said Hemant Sharma, principal secretary of the industries department, who made a half an hour presentation at the plenary session explaining the theme of the conclave: come, join the juggernaut.
The presentation explained in minute detail the strengths of the state like an industry-ready land bank of 1,58,730 acres, connectivity with four ports in the state, the network of roads linking the industrial zones and availability of skilled manpower. It also outlined the government's attempts to woo investments to new areas like IT and ITES, food processing, textiles, pharma, chemicals and biotechnology.
The "most interesting part" of the presentation, some in the audience said, was Sharma's detailing of a special initiative of Patnaik to assess the service delivery of various government departments.
"The chief minister makes 20 calls every day, between 3pm and 4pm, to industry heads and asks three to four questions to assess whether services are properly being delivered by the officials.... If there is any adverse report, the official is out by 5pm," said Sharma, before adding that the system had also rewarded scores of officials for their efficiency.
Several speakers in different sessions of the summit on Thursday corroborated Sharma's claims as they appreciated the governance model in Odisha, put in place by Panaik and his team. "I was having a meeting with the chief minister to discuss our investments in Kendrapara, the constituency of the late Biju Patnaik (father of the present CM).... The chief minister wanted an MoU to be signed at 2pm and within a couple of hours, it was signed. I haven't seen such speed anywhere," said Mittal, who explained details of the company's joint venture with Nippon Steel for a 24 million-ton plant in Odisha.
There is little doubt that Patnaik's plan to bring in more private sector investments will yield the desired results as Odisha has the unique advantage of being a mineral-rich state and a well-functioning bureaucracy. But the bigger challenge for the BJD government is to ensure that the benefits of industrialisation trickle down to the poorer sections, especially those in the western parts of the state, characterised by agrarian distress and large-scale forced migration.
The new industrial policy resolution released on Thursday included several incentives for new investments in the western parts of the state. The lack of progress in the western part is a major political issue in Odisha. The question, however, is whether the incentives alone can change the development landscape of the state.