Losing Vedanta-Foxconn, Bulk Drug Park deals: A Herculean failure of state govt

Updated on Sep 20, 2022 12:46 PM IST

The pride of the state has been crushed today, as Maharashtra never seemed so helpless. It is against the principles of meritocracy to have lost out on these projects, and the youth are angry at the negligence of the governing arrangement

While the chief minister was busy in a game of one-upmanship, Maharashtra lost two big industrial projects that would have created job opportunities for two lakh skilled and unskilled youth (HT File)
While the chief minister was busy in a game of one-upmanship, Maharashtra lost two big industrial projects that would have created job opportunities for two lakh skilled and unskilled youth (HT File)
ByAaditya Thackeray

Last week, Maharashtra’s present political dispensation was made to realise that there is life beyond politics of breaking political parties. While the chief minister was busy in a game of one-upmanship, Maharashtra lost two big industrial projects that would have created job opportunities for two lakh skilled and unskilled youth.

The Vedanta-Foxconn semiconductor project went to Dholera, Gujarat, instead of Talegaon, Maharashtra, and the Bulk Drug Park was given to Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh, instead of Raigad, Maharashtra.

Instead of admitting to the failure to keep the two projects anchored in Maharashtra and uniting the state in an effort to pull in job opportunities, a war of words was initiated, employing the age-old tactic -- “if you can’t convince them, confuse them” -- on social media.

Analogies were drawn of Gujarat being a younger brother to Maharashtra, and how it was wrong to be so deeply pained to have lost a project to Gujarat, especially with the Vedanta-Foxconn deal, that would have brought in one lakh jobs to our state. The answer is simple: Gujarat is our neighbour, and it is a brother, an equal state -- neither big or old, not small or young.

But is it fair to lose a project that Maharashtra has a meritorious right over, to any state?

The Industries department of Maharashtra, led by the then minister, Subhash Desai, pulled in more than Rs6.2 lakh crore of investment into the state, from 2019 to 2022, under the MVA government led by Uddhav Thackeray. Likewise, Desai initiated the dialogue with Vedanta for the semiconductor project in January 2022, right after the government of India expressed its desire to establish semiconductor production units in India, in December 2021.

Subsequently, meetings took place, including one at Davos; multiple site visits were conducted, with reports of Talegaon being the best suited location tabled, as later established in media reports.

The financial incentives offered by the state government were way higher than other competing states, apart from the land, transport, availability of water, electricity and the talent pool around the location.

A letter dated September 5, from the MIDC under the new dispensation, with a reference to an August 29 meeting, asking for a date and time to sign the MoU went unanswered, and the government of Maharashtra woke up to the news of another state bagging the project.

The Bulk Drug Park met a similar fate. Maharashtra had applied for it, as soon as the government of India called in expressions of interest. The state is the leading vaccine manufacturer in India. Maharashtra tops in the number of qualified and approved drug producing companies in the country. In terms of export preparedness index of the NITI AAYOG, Maharashtra stands second, and more importantly, it has 394 pharmacy colleges, adding to a local talent pool, coming from all over India.

The location earmarked for the same was near the Nhava Sheva port and the new airport near Navi Mumbai. What more can a state offer, if not a best suited location, a huge talent pool, state supported subsidy of Rs2,800 crore, and a tradition of leading in the pharma sphere?

The anger and disbelief prevalent among Maharashtra’s youth isn’t about losing to other states. Maharashtra always rejoices when anything good happens across the country, and has even lent a helping hand, when needed, to any state, in circumstances such as floods and earthquakes. We are a state that firmly believes in the idea of a prosperous India and in cooperative federalism.

We are deeply hurt, facing the brunt of a governing arrangement that is against the principles of democracy, morality and interests of people.

Losing one lakh jobs in one project, and almost 70,000 in another, when the state is best placed to meritoriously bag both, against all possible odds, must have taken a Herculean effort at failing.

This has struck us deeply. The pride of the state has been crushed today, as Maharashtra never seemed so helpless. It is against the principles of meritocracy to have lost out on these projects, and the youth are angry at the negligence of the governing arrangement.

What makes it worse is that even now, the governing arrangement is indulging in brash political blame-game, with some threatening an enquiry against those who stand up for Maharashtra and its interests.

Aaditya Thackeray is Shiv Sena youth wing chief, MLA and former state environment minister

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