Cheap labour & land pitch

A senior Odisha bureaucrat on Wednesday projected the state as a very competitive investment destination because of low wage rates and cheaper land.

By Basant Kumar Mohanty
  • Published 13.09.18
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New Delhi: A senior Odisha bureaucrat on Wednesday projected the state as a very competitive investment destination because of low wage rates and cheaper land.

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik, industry minister Ananta Das, chief secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi and industry secretary Sanjeev Chopra were here to participate in the investors' meet to attract investments to the state.

Das, Padhi and Chopra addressed a press conference immediately after the function. To a question about what makes Odisha competitive, Chopra cited the low wage rate and cheap land.

"Odisha stands very competitive in view of low cost of doing business in terms of wages, land rates, in terms of availability (of land), rate of power and in terms of cost of living," Chopra said.

The assertion, however, triggered a debate with many criticising the government for allowing exploitation of labour at the hand of corporates.

Birendra Nayak, former professor of Mathematics from Utkal University, Bhubaneswar, said pleading industry to come to Odisha because of low wage rate was a "sad commentary" on the state government that claims to be pro-people.

"Low wage rate and cheap land means exploitation of workers and marginal land owners. This road show in Delhi is cheap exhibitionism by government in name of attracting industry," hesaid.

Himanshu Sekhar Rout, who teaches economics at Utkal University, said the central and states governments were responsible for the availability of cheap labour in Odisha.

"The workers are not skilled. They have no bargaining power. They are forced to work on low wages. The central and state governments should rather focus on skill training of its workforce rather than luringthe industry citing low wage rates," Rout said.

The Delhi meet was a prelude to the second edition of Make in Odisha conclave that would be held in Bhubaneswar from November 11-15.

The first edition, which was held two years ago, received investment proposals worth Rs two lakh crore in the state. Chopra, however, had no concrete answer to how much investment had actually taken place on the ground of the Rs two lakh crore promised by the corporates.

"About 65 per cent of the proposed investments are at various stages of approval," Chopra said.