Monday, June 4, 2012

Last year's GIM promise falls flat in Bidar

Progress report of projects: seven of 19 promoters back out, 10 in pipeline, two speeding ahead

While the State government is all set for the Global Investors' Meet 2012 that is to begin in Bangalore from June 7, it is time to look back and access the progress of projects that were signed at last year's meet in Bidar district.

Work has commenced on only two of the 19 projects approved for setting up industries in this backward district. Entrepreneurs had promised investments worth Rs. 1,318.94 crore and employment to 11,568 skilled and unskilled workers. During one of his visits to Bidar, the then Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa had announced that such unprecedented investments would change the face of Bidar.

“The initial enthusiasm has gone now. Seven of the 19 promoters backed out and only 12 projects have moved ahead. Of them, only two are in advanced stages of implementation,” sources said.

Of the two, one is a steel products industry and the other is an expansion of an existing unit in the Bidar industrial area. Officials estimate that if all the 12 projects were completed, it would have provided jobs to around 5,000 people.

In the ten projects that have commenced, some have been allotted land, some have started work on building the plants and others have started erecting machines. According to them, recessionary trends in the market and delay in land acquisition have affected progress.

“The investors wanted 564 acres of land. While some were willing to set up their units in the industrial estates that already exist in the district headquarters and the taluks, others wanted new land to be acquired. We had put forward the proposals to the Revenue Department and the State government. Land acquisition is in progress, but it has not been as fast as we had hoped,” government sources said.

Officials also felt that some industrialists were not interested in starting industries, but in the land or to avail tax benefits offered by the government.

But industrialists deny this. They blame delays on the apathy of government departments to issue clearances for setting up of industries, large-scale corruption and the delay in setting up a common effluent treatment plant in the industrial area.

“An investor needs to get hundreds of clearances before he can set up a factory. This stifling attitude of the bureaucracy towards private enterprise has not changed even after liberalisation,” says Bidar Chamber of Commerce and Industries president B.G. Shetkar.

He pointed to corruption at all levels of governance and rubbished allegations that industrialists were here only for the land. Industrialists have filed complaints against officials for demanding and accepting bribes. During a public hearing in Bidar a few months ago, two industrialists representing Hyderabad-based Balaji Enterprises had complained to the former Lokayukta Shivaraj Patil that Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board officials had not allotted sites to them even after demanding and accepting bribes. Justice Patil had told the officials to speed up the process of allotting the sites.

In a review meeting last year, another industrialist had told the then Regional Commissioner Shalini Rajneesh that officials of the KIADB and the Industries Department had refused to clear his project and allot sites if he did not pay a bribe. Ms. Rajneesh had promised to look into the matter.

When contacted, Large-and Medium-Scale Industries Minister Murugesh Nirani said he would ensure that all the promises of investments made in this year's GIM would be fulfilled. He also promised to direct senior officials of his department to look into allegations of corruption against officials.