Some of India’s biggest companies pledged billions of dollars to build new power, telecoms and agro businesses in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday, an apparent vote of confidence in a state seeking to boost private investments to emerge from decades of poverty.
Responding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for investments, industry bigwigs Mukesh and Anil Ambani, Gautam Adani and Essar’s Shashi Ruia announced ambitious plans that could help create thousands of jobs for the youth in the state.
Reliance Industries chairman Mukesh Ambani not only promised to invest Rs 20,000 crore, mostly in coal bed methane and retail projects in Madhya Pradesh by 2016, but also said the state would soon become the digital capital of India.
"By the middle of 2015, in 10 months from now, you can look forward to Madhya Pradesh being the digital capital of India," he said on the second day of the fourth Global Investors Summit (GIS) in Indore.
"I firmly believe that in today’s world to change our education, healthcare, government services, and financial infrastructure, digitisation is a prerequisite and to my mind digitisation also creates more jobs. So we look forward to working with people and small businesses of Madhya Pradesh."
Long held back by chronic poverty and lack of infrastructure, Madhya Pradesh is now India's fastest growing state with the government making efforts to improve ease of doing business. Besides building better infrastructure, the state is also moving to cut red tape.
But Madhya Pradesh has not realised all the past investment pledges at similar summits. At the last summit in 2012, investment pledges worth more than 3.77 lakh crore were made but less than half of that amount materialised, government figures showed.
Prime Minister Modi’s presence this year, though, appeared to deliver a shot in the arm for the state.
"This time around, the state government is focusing on creating the right environment for attracting investments and has only invited expression of intent (EoI) in different sectors," state chief secretary Anthony DeSa told Hindustan Times.
"The final figure of EoIs received during the three-day summit will be released on Friday, the concluding day of the summit."
Speaking on the occasion, ADAG chairman Anil Ambani too said his company had already invested Rs 30,000 crore in Madhya Pradesh in coal, power, cement and telecoms business and aimed to take that investment to Rs 60,000 crore by 2020.
Industrialist Gautam Adani too pledged to invest Rs 20,000 crore in the state over the next five years in building world-class grain storage houses and power projects.
The Essar group, which has already invested in power, steel and BPO operations in the state, will invest an additional Rs 4,000 crore in coal bed methane exploration, its chief Shashi Ruia said.
Welspun India promised an in investment of Rs 5,000 crore in renewable power sector.
Talking to HT, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) DG Chandrajit Banerjee said, "Today, what is more important is the way the Madhya Pradesh government has conducted this GIS. Unlike in the past, the companies have come and talked about hard investments and employment generation. So, this is much more concrete and definitive."