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Industrialists demand free land before investing

chandigarh Updated: Nov 05, 2014 12:40 IST
Manpreet Randhawa

Many industrial houses have sought free land from the state government before they can decide on investing in Punjab.

The demand was conveyed to senior IAS (Indian Administrative Service) officers whom deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal had handpicked and sent on a weeklong tour to Maharashtra and Karnataka to fetch investment. The team led by principal secretary (industries, commerce, and investment promotion) Karan Avtar Singh and Punjab Bureau of Investment Promotion chief executive officer (CEO) Anirudh Tewari was off to the coastal states on October 27 to meet the representatives of various industrial houses after multinational company KPMG (Klynveld Peat Marwick Goerdeler) had arranged it.

Siemens, Kansai Nerolac, Sanofi Pharmaceuticals, Mahindra & Mahindra, Glaxo Smithkline, Harman Finochem, Maico India, and Infosys are some of the industrial houses that the Punjab delegation has approached. Most of them have asked for free land for units, on the pattern of Indian School of Business (ISB) venture for which the Punjab government gave away 70 acres for just one rupee.

Their opinion on the Punjab fiscal incentives was that those were no different from the inducements in other states. Some found the tax concessions in southern states even better. They suggested that the Punjab government built industrial clusters on the pattern of Maharashtra, the way pharmaceuticals and textile parks have come up.

Fear trade unions

The big industrialists fear the lynch-mob mentality of the workers and the strong trade unions in the northern states, and so would prefer to keep their money in south. They even recalled the incidents where factory workers had thrashed a Greater Noida company CEO to death in 2008 and lynched a Maruti Udyog Limited general manager in Gurgaon in 2012.

The companies wanted Punjab to introduce labour reforms. Tewari said the talks with most of the industrial houses were positive. “It is correct that some of the industrial houses sought free land on the ISB pattern but we told them if they brought a matching project to Punjab, the government would consider,” he added.

CEO hopeful

Punjab Bureau of Investment Promotion chief executive officer (CEO) Anirudh Tewari observed that every industry had a different requirement and it would take a while before the things would start to move. “Infosys, for instance, is much satisfied already with the kind of support the Punjab government has given it,” said Tewari. At first Progressive Punjab Investors Summit in December last year, industry had promised to invest Rs 67,000 crore in the state. State industry minister Madan Mohan Mittal said in the past year, so far, the investment of only Rs 10,000 crore had come about. “Projects of an equal worth are in the pipeline, and pending issues of land clearance are being resolved,” he added.