Make in Odisha: Before declaring the conclave a success, CM Patnaik must iron out investors' issues

The hype and hoopla over the ‘Make in Odisha’ conclave, the grand investors’ meet of the Odisha government that concluded in the state capital of Bhubaneswar last week, has certainly helped project a positive image of the state – with promises of new industries, jobs and faster economic growth.

But the dreams will only come true only if the whopping Rs 2.03 lakh crore investment assurances garnered at the conclave can fructify. Development of state projects have been perpetually bogged down by land disputes, raw material linkages and green clearances.

In that regard, it is too early to predict what the upshot of the venture will be, given the fact that the state has lacked inertia in most of the past projects, as they have mostly remained non-starters.

 Make in Odisha: Before declaring the conclave a success, CM Patnaik must iron out investors issues

The Bhubaneswar conclave garnered Rs 2.03 lakh crore in investment proposals spread across 10 sectors. Firstpost/Kasturi Ray

The state government has been on an investment inviting spree since the beginning of this year. It garnered proposals worth Rs 70,000 crore at the Mumbai conclave and Rs 90,000 crore in Bangalore.  The Bhubaneswar conclave, however, topped the lot with Rs 2.03 lakh crore investment proposals in 10 sectors. On face value, it is a big achievement, but distinct cracks and deep crevices of the past are ineluctable.

The state has been witness to Korean giants like Posco, Essar, Sterlite and Arcellor failing to make headway, even after 10 years of promises and struggles. Ease of doing business, particularly when it comes to paper work, as the government forgets, is not the only issue investors deal with when they plan to start their ventures.

It is important that the government should emphasise on easing raw material linkage, land availability and environmental clearances; all of which led to only 20 of the 250 projects promised becoming successful in starting production in the state between 2004 and 2015.

According to the World Bank report (2008), the state had achieved an 8.5 percent annual growth rate during the Tenth Five-Year Plan, 2002-07, in comparison to 7.8 percent for India as a whole.

It is during this period that industrial growth was exponential in Odisha – at 15 percent, much higher than the 9 percent growth rate for India. Naturally, investments also increased, but the momentum took a downward turn 2008 onwards. Till 2008, memorandums of understanding (MoUs) were signed dime a dozen, attracting investments worth Rs 5.69 lakh crores. But in reality, only Rs 2.45 lakh crore investments took off, while many backed off owing to land acquisition problems and raw material issues.

An Assocham report states Odisha as the third most preferred investment destination in the country. Naturally, as the state had adopted a friendly Industrial Policy Resolution (IPR) in 2015, aiming to ease business procedures.

But there is still a myriad of issues that needs to be focused on before inviting more investments and expecting them to bear fruit. The state government has identified 1,00,000 acres of land all over the state to create a land bank for facilitating the setting up of industries, with the Industrial Development Corporation Odisha in charge.

But how many acres are in possession of the government to immediately sanction to the investors? Timely allotment of land would help investors to expedite their project and also allow them enough time to look into environment clearances. A state abound with natural resources must also facilitate linkage of resources to the prospective investors. Moreover, economic prosperity and development of the state should not remain confined to the ruling party. The Opposition political parties too need to play a healthy role in a positive and proactive way like in other states.

At this juncture, with such high figure investments coming in, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, apart from sporting that winsome smile and declaring Make in Odisha successful, must ensure that his government does the needful to retain the interest of investors in the state.

He must negotiate for double the assured 1.4 lakh jobs and give the interested parties a conducive atmosphere by ironing out the wizened issues. Lest, the investments will only be considered a hogwash for the 15-year-old government that has been frantically trying to achieve a ‘developed’ tag status for the state.

Updated Date: Dec 10, 2016 15:24:49 IST