After a bout of rapid industrialisation in the late 70s and early 80s, Dewas has been witnessing a decline since then due to inadequate infrastructure, industrialists say. Located 35km from Indore, Dewas is home to multinational companies such as Ranbaxy, Tata International, Gabriel, Volvo Eicher Commercial Vehicles and John Deere among others.
It also has several soya processing plants and is the biggest exporter of high-quality chana called dollar chana. The industrial town also boasts of several auto ancillary units. Dewas Industries Association president Ashok Khandelia said that despite being home to such companies, the town has failed to live up to its potential.
"The infrastructure needs to improve. When it was set up in 1972, the roads were constructed to bear a load of 10 to 20 tonnes, while the load now is 100 tonnes. We need a one-time major investment by the government to upgrade its infrastructure," Khandelia said. Although the town gets uninterrupted power supply, it faces acute water shortage during summers, he added.
"The water supply is often only half of the total demand," Khandelia said. India's first BOT water project near Nemawar, 90km from Dewas, meant to feed water to the town from Narmada River, is able to supply only about 5 million litres per day against the required 30 MLD, he said.
According to managing director of Ujjain Audyogik Kendra Vikas Nigam DS Chaturvedi, the government now plans to supply water from Narmada-Shipra link that is only 8km from Dewas, as it would be economical. "While there is some problem of water shortage in the industrial area, there is no acute problem. In fact, the industries at times draw less water than the available supply," he said.
The industries in Dewas have also faced flak in the past for discharging effluents in violation of the pollution control norms. As a corrective measure, the government has sanctioned Rs 26 crore for a modern drainage system and the work is expected to start soon.
Another problem that is driving away investors is the scarcity of developed industrial land in Dewas. Khandelia estimates loss of thousands of crores in investments on this count. Since the land is scarce in the town, the government is developing a new industrial area at Sirsodia, about 21km from Dewas.
According to Chaturvedi, water and power projects have been completed at the new site, while work on roads in underway. "The allocation of industrial units should begin by November end," said Chaturvedi. On the shortage of housing for labourers, another big problem facing Dewas, Chaturvedi said the labour department was the proper agency to reply.
A labour department official, who did not wish to be named, said the housing for workers should be factored in while preparing the layout for industrial areas. "There are no residential colonies for the workers as the industries have been set up in a haphazard manner," he said.