There was a time when Maharashtra would see a rush of industrialists wanting to set up their units in the state. However, several factors such as bureaucratic delays, high taxes and high land prices hampered the state's development and other states such as Gujarat have come to the forefront.
The state government, however, maintains that Maharashtra is still a preferred destination for investment.
"Maharashtra is still leading and we are coming up with a new industrial policy that will give more incentives to industries and correct all the faults in the current system," said Sachin Ahir, minister of state for industries.
But Maharashtra Economic Development Council (MEDC) president Vithal Kamat said it is time that they take steps. "A single window clearance system needs to be in place along with other incentives. Also, the government needs to decide if it wants a few industries and high taxes or more industries and moderate taxes," Kamat said.
While Maharashtra still has highest number of new industries that got the go-ahead, it is second to Gujarat in terms of the money. From August 1991 to August 2010, Maharashtra saw an investment of Rs6.96 lakh crore with 16,140 proposals approved while Gujarat saw an investment of Rs8.6 lakh crore, almost Rs two lakh crore more with 10,666 proposals.
"We cannot compare Maharashtra with other smaller states. With the new policy, we will see special zones created for industries such as gas and textile where relevant infrastructure will be provided. We are also developing more ports and trying to solve the power problem by 2012," Ahir said.
Another issue is a lack of space for large industries that can be given at a subsidised rate. "This is one of our biggest challenges. So we have set up land banks where every district officer has been given an annual target to acquire land. We have also taken back 150 plots from industries which had not taken off," he said.
Referring to belts like Mumbai-Pune, where the IT sector has seen the maximum Foreign Direct Investment of Rs12,765 crore in the past decade, Ahir said the state is planning to branch out into areas like Satara and Karla where there is space and people have understood that agriculture alone is not enough.