The twin districts of Mandsaur and Neemuch can be likened to a proverbial king sitting on a goldmine and watching the robbers cart the gold away.
That goldmine here is the rich wealth of raw food ingredients, like isabgol, ashwagandha, methidana, ajwain, coriander, garlic and ginger. But, the traders from neighouring Gujarat lift them in bulk from local markets at cheap rates, process, package and export them for rich margins.
The twins, though, get some profit but don’t get enough to establish their monopoly in food processing sector and a say to attract foreign importers, feel industry sources.
But all is not bad with the 60-odd kilometre apart twins, 300 north of Indore. They have a combined area of 9,777 square kilometres with backbone opium belt running right through, contributing 75% to the nation's total production.
Jaggakheri Industrial Association president Mukesh Jain says besides food processing plants, cement and solar power plants too have great potential to attract investment majors here. It is because the land is rich in limestone and laterite which are needed as raw materials, he says.
Earlier, the Cement Corporation of India used to run a cement unit in Nayagaon, but that has closed down. At present, a unit of Ultratech cement, is functioning in Khor in Neemuch, while a clinker grinding unit it is coming up at Bhanpura.
Solar power plant has become the sunrise industry in this region. On February 27, 2014, Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi had inaugurated 130 MW solar power plant by Welspun Energy, spread over 1000 acres of land at Bhagwanpura in Neemuch.
Jain feels ample availability of sunlight, less pollution and presence of land unfit for agriculture, solar power plants have great scope in the region.
There are only 10 large scale industries between them. But three other units are coming up. They are Venus Alloys in Daloda, Mandsaur, Ambuja Cement’s clinker grinding unit at Bhanpura, Mandsaur and a solvent extraction plant at Rawatkhera in Neemuch.
Neemuch District Trading and Industries Centre (DTIC) general manager, Amrish Adhikari says, "The entire region has tremendous potential, especially in the sphere of food processing, as raw material is readily available here."
Mandsaur BJP MLA Yashpal Sisodiya and local industrialists feel the food processing and marketing units have a huge potential here which the government should tap by implementing promotional schemes.
The fault lies in its execution, they say and cite the case of a two-decade old food processing park spread over 50-acre in Jaggakheri locality of Mandsaur where only 20 units are operational.
They blame it on the Audyogik Kendra Vikas Nigam (AKVN, Ujjain which manages the park for not recovering the plots from the shut-down units and re-allocating them to encourage others.
Another 55 hectare food park has also been planned in the Jhanjharwada, Dhamaniya and Soniyana villages in Neemuch district, by the AKVN under the ongoing Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor project.
Managing director of AKVN, Ujjain, D S Chaturvedi, says it would be wrong to say that his department is not doing anything. He said in the past couple of years they have given notices to 60 industries and cancelled allotments of 40. "Work is going on in 22 units at Jaggakheri," Chaturvedi said.