Twenty-four-year-old Maksi is an industrial area in deep sleep — trading pulse faint, industrial activities imperceptible and the government looking away instead of reviving it into a throbbing industrial hub.
It was set up in Shajapur district, just 70 kms from the traditional trading centre of Indore, on a 12-acre land by the District Industries Centre (DIC) in 1980.
However, now it is a unique case of government neglect as the District Industries Centre (DIC) doesn't have any figures of its failure or plans to explore its potential.
Even Shajapur DIC general manager SP Janoriya admits, "The turnover and investment figures are available for the entire district (Shajapur) but not for Maksi industrial area alone."
It lost the initial sheen when the government decided to set up Pithampur industrial area, 25-odd kilometers from Indore just shortly after setting up Maksi. Why? Nobody knows. But, the decision took away whatever trading activity Maksi could have in its share.
Ramesh Kabra, managing director Encon India Poles Pvt Ltd says, "The government made Pithampur more lucrative. It offered a capital subsidy of 25% to people investing in Pithampur, while for Maksi, the capital subsidy was only 15%."
Pluses vs minuses
This industrial area is home to asbestos sheet manufacturers, packaging units, plastic goods, pipe manufacturers and distillery.
The part, which was developed by the DIC, has five units, of which four are still operational. Later in 1984, the MP Audyogik Vikas Kendra Nigam (MPAVKN) set up an industrial cluster spanning nearly 90 hectares as part of Maksi. It has about 100 plots but only 34 units are operational. "Many people have taken the plots but haven’t built any factories or produced anything for a long time. We served notices on four such units recently," said MPAKVN, Ujjain, Manager RK Trivedi.
However, the location for the industrial area was chosen for it having a better rail and road connectivity—it is close to National Highway 3 and has a railway junction.
This was considered to be a big plus as it promised to serve as a major trade and transaction link with Indore, a city with a long history as a trading and commerce hub, as well as Ujjain located nearby.
However, now both the approach and the interior roads have been bared down to their rocky layup under heavy traffic. The unrepaired roads not only slow down the transport traffic but also stop it for hours at the railway crossing, which divides industrial areas operated by DIC and the nigam.
"Since Maksi is a junction many trains pass through here and vehicles have to queue up for the barrier to lift. Traffic jams are frequent," says an association of industries office-bearer.
Pithampur, which is much closer to Indore, is a hub for the automotive industry. An auto testing track, sanctioned by the union government, is under construction. It will reportedly be the largest facility of its kind in Asia once complete.
The industrial area has a special economic zone and a dry port (inland container depot) facility from the Container Corporation of India (CCI). Food and chemical processing industries, distilleries and textile are some of the other industries here.
A total of 957 units are operational in Pithampur and 46 hectares of land was acquired for the industrial area, according to an industrial profile prepared by the Micro Small and Medium (MSME) Development Institute, Indore, Of them, the maximum are in Pithampur Sector 3 (543), according to the profile data 2010-11.
The example of government’s favoured focus on Pithampur is revealed by the fact that number of units in Dhar district, of which Pithampur is a part, jumped from six in 1984-85 to 313 in 1987-88. The investment during the same period zoomed from Rs 98.08 lakh to Rs 1271.28. How much of this may have gone to Maksi if it were accorded parity with Pithampur is anyone’s guess, say industrial sources.