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Odisha attracts investors, but projects still in files

Bhubaneswar: Odisha, a mineral rich state, may have attracted big ticket expressions of interest from potential investors and been ranked seventh in ease of doing business among the states, but it is miles behind in getting the projects off the ground.

Several mega projects, including Posco, continue to face hurdles in even getting off the ground while several have stalled. Companies have shied away from investing in the state for reasons ranging from not-so-business-friendly policies, environmental issues, land acquisition, protection of ethnic tribes and their culture and the menace of left-wing ultras.

A total of 264 mega projects evinced interest to set up projects with an investment of almost Rs. 8 lakh crore ($120 billion) between 2004 and 2015. The government had approved the projects through its single window clearance system.

“Out of these 264 projects, only 20 have successfully established their set-ups and have started partial or full production with an investment of Rs. 12,000 crore,” Industry Minister Debi Prasad Mishra said in the state assembly.

Besides, the government has inked memoranda of understanding (MoUs) with 92 companies worth Rs. 5.96 lakh crore. Out of this, 45 have started partial or full production with an investment of Rs. 2.45 lakh crore, Mishra added.

In the energy sector, as many as 20 independent power producers are yet to commence construction work on their projects. While the state government has inked MoU with 30 power producers, only four have started production, a senior official of the energy department told IANS, requesting anonymity.

The companies are expected to produce the thermal power of around 37,000 MW involving an investment of over Rs. 1 lakh crore.

Those projects that have begun despite all odds now facing raw material linkages, industry sources said.

Vedanta’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) Abhijit Pati, who met Odisha Chief Secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi a few days back, said the company’s one million tonnes per annum (MTPA) aluminium refinery at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district is running at 50 percent capacity and incurring a loss of Rs. 3 crore per day due to the paucity of raw materials.

Then, there is Tata Steel’s newly-commissioned greenfield three mtpa steel mill at Kalinga Nagar but it is not running at full capacity, industry sources said.

In an attempt to reverse this state of affairs, the Odisha government has recently come out with a new edition of the Industrial Policy Resolution (IPR) to upgrade its rank among investors on ‘Ease of Doing Business’.

It has not only made it simpler to set up a business but also eased tax procedures for corporate houses.

The IPR has envisioned attracting new investments worth Rs. 1.73 lakh crore by 2019-20.

The policy is also loaded with features like a fast track cell to clear investment proposals within 30 days, a dedicated portal to ease business processes for investors and an exclusive mobile app for investment facilitation.

To overcome the land hurdle, the state government has also identified about 100,000 acres to create a land bank for facilitating to set up industries without any hassles, sources said.

The Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation of Odisha (IDCO) has ordered the acquisition of land at Angul, Balasore, Cuttack, Deras, Dhamra, Dhenkanal, Jharsuguda, Kalinga Nagar, Koraput, Paradip, Rayagada and Rourkela in the first phase.

Odisha has been ranked seventh in the “Assessment of State Implementation of Business Reforms” a collaborative effort of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), the World Bank, consulting firm KPMG and business chambers CII and FICCI.

Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh were ranked first and second.(IANS, Chinmaya Dehury)

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