If creating a buzz around Maharashtra’s attempt to get investors’ attention was the motive, then Make In India Week was a major success. According to the state government, more than 2,500 Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) with investment prospects of about Rs8 lakh crore were signed with industrial groups.
Questions are being raised whether majority of these MoUs will translate into real investment. Some opposition leaders have even pointed out that some of the companies had signed similar MoUs elsewhere.
It is true that all MoUs never lead to assured investment since the investors take their decisions based on certain conditions, sops offered by the authorities and what they stand to gain in the long term. However, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and his team should get full marks for giving investors the impression that Maharashtra is keen to get more investment and offering incentives to the investors who want to set shops here.
The attitude of the Fadnavis-led government is positive when it comes to creating industry-friendly atmosphere and speeding up the task to build infrastructure in the state, especially after we saw constantly changing policies of successive governments in the past two decades. One hopes this will continue and lead to some concrete results.
As the Fadnavis government is celebrating the outcome of Make In India Week, many people from the industries and within the government are striking a note of caution. The interest shown by the industry is just the beginning and Fadnavis will have to support this with some tough measures, they say. In the past two decades, several investors faced obstacles in Maharashtra and decided to go elsewhere. Exorbitant cost of land, corruption in government and extortion by local politicians are identified as major problems in the state.
It is alleged that the land mafia in each district have been calling the shots with the blessing of the politicians and bureaucrats. They know who would be buying land for industries or commercial purpose, especially in rural areas, and play a role in the transactions directly or indirectly.
Many in local administration see new industry or commercial activity as an opportunity to make money and as such every permission and certificate required to set shop comes with a price tag. If that is not enough, several local politicians resort to extortion either by directly asking for money or forcing the investor to source raw material from them or appoint contractors and employees recommended by them.
Apart from using marketing tools to attract investors, Fadnavis will have to deal with these elements and ensure that industry-friendly atmosphere prevails at the ground level too. And while everybody is talking about investment and industries, it is time to look at the long-neglected fact — why is there no industrial development beyond a particular area? Most industrial development is concentrated in Mumbai-Pune-Nashik triangle and some pockets around major cities such as Aurangabad.
It is often wondered why backward parts of the state have not gained equal attention. If industries can go to remote states such as Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh then why not in neglected areas of north Maharashtra, Marathwada and Vidarbha? Let’s hope the response the state government received in Make In India Week makes this possible and less developed parts of the state benefit.