Mineral and iron ore-rich Jabalpur is an "industrial virgin" ready to court investment biggies any time in metal extraction and processing units.
This is the gist of the SWOT (strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis carried out by the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASSOCHAM) in 2010.
The chambers of commerce and industry had submitted its recommendations to the Madhya Pradesh government in the same year. But, there hasn't been any step towards making Jabalpur's production hub, popularly known as Adhartal industrial area, into a major investment magnet.
Traders' bodies unanimously attribute this to a lack of will to promote what Jabalpur has and shut out what it shouldn't have. But, they are confident that a little promotional push from the above (the government) can hoist Jabalpur onto the country's industrial map.
As of now, Adhartal, 350 km from the state capital, is confined to 70 plots and 54 sheds spread over 44.44 hectares of land. It was set up in 1961 and there is not much difference ever since despite having defence ancillaries, automobile spare parts, plastic and food processing units.
Currently, it has 110 small scale industrial units. Of which around 97% are operational. The SWOT report has highlighted how setting up limestone, refractory clay, bauxite, iron ore and manganese processing units can give the industrial scene a positive turnaround. Even food processing units can do wonders here, the report indicates.
The city has a huge pool of trained and experienced workforce. Many have undergone apprentice training in over 15 trades in the defence factories, including Gun Carriage Factories, Ordnance Factory Khamaria, Vehicle Factory Jabalpur and Grey Iron Foundry.
Industry sources say that the defence ancillary industries here are not doing too well despite the presence of a number of production units. The reason is that they are still not automated while those in Pune, Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata are manufacturing products from fully automated machines, says retired senior general manager of Gun Carriage Factory (defence establishment) SP Yadav. The defence ancillaries area contribute around 5-7% to the four defence factories.
Fully automating them is another investment intensive area where multi-national automation firms, especially those enabling robots to perform the caliber precision, can play a big role.
A lack of basic infrastructure in Adhartal industrial area- poor service lanes, no street lights and lack of side drains - is one of the major concerns of entrepreneurs.
The service lanes connecting the main road are not maintained, obstructing smooth mobility of heavy vehicles. The industrial area has defunct water supply system and the units have made their own arrangement by digging borewells on their respective campus.
The issues of poor infrastructure and lack of security have been raised by the industrial bodies in the past with the local industrial authorities but there has been no response, entrepreneurs say.
The industrial bodies including Jabalpur Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Mahakaushal Udyog Sangh blame the district industry and trade centre (DITC) for improper upkeep of infrastructure, security in this industrial area.
In fact, the entrepreneurs feel that DITC has no policy to provide resolution for their problems nor is it in a position to help the industrial unit closed for six to eight months or more for various reasons.
A couple of months ago, the Mahakaushal Udyog Sangh had made a representation to state commerce and industry minister Yashodhra Raje Scindia and urged her to address small scale industries' issues on priority.