Yet another big-ticket project slips away from Maharashtra
Mumbai: A day after Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde assured the state of big-ticket investments, yet another project has slipped away from it
Mumbai: A day after Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde assured the state of big-ticket investments, yet another project has slipped away from it. After the ambitious Vedanta-Foxconn, medical devices park, bulk drug park and Tata Airbus projects, the French aircraft engine major Safran has decided to shift its proposed unit to Hyderabad.
The decision has led to the opposition Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) going for the government’s jugular, with the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray) even calling for the Shinde-Fadnavis government to step down on moral grounds. The BJP-Balasahebanchi Shiv Sena regime is already on the backfoot over significant investment projects bypassing Maharashtra in favour of Gujarat, and the Shiv Sena (UBT) has been using this fact to consolidate its Marathi voter base.
Safran, a French multinational, had intended to set up a maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO) facility for leading edge aviation propulsion (LEAP) commercial aircraft engines in India as part of its offset commitments at the special economic zone (SEZ) of the Nagpur-based Multi-Model International Passenger and Cargo Hub Airport at Nagpur (MIHAN). Safran is an international high-technology group, operating in the aviation (propulsion, equipment and interiors), defence and space markets.
Sources told HT that Maharashtra lost the project due to administrative delay on the part of the Maharashtra Airport Development Company (MADC). According to available information, senior functionaries of Safran visited Nagpur three to four times and interacted with the officers of MIHAN as well as those of MADC. But as they delayed the procedure to allot the land, the company decided to shift its venture to Hyderabad.
The MRO state-of-the-art facility will be set up through a 100% Indian subsidiary route that will not only service around 330 engines used by Indian commercial carriers but also Safran-GE joint-venture engines from other countries in South Asia, West Asia, and Africa. Safran is bringing in USD 150 million foreign direct investment with future plans of moving into the MRO of military engines used in the Indian Air Force’s Rafale and Mirage 2000 fighters to give a push to the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative. The company is set to invest around ₹1,185 crore in its first phase for its proposed MRO.
V Sraman, development commissioner of MIHAN, said that the officials of Safran visited Nagpur three to four times and inspected the land at MIHAN about four or five months ago. The company had shortlisted some cities, including Nagpur, Hyderabad and Bengaluru for the project. Sraman admitted that “dilly-dallying” tactics by MADC and greater incentives offered by the Telangana government could have been the reason for the multinational shifting the project from Nagpur to Hyderabad.
State Congress spokesman Atul Londhe alleged that the BJP and Devendra Fadnavis had destabilised the industrial atmosphere in Maharashtra on account of their lust for power. “The million-dollar question is: how much more injustice will be done to backward Vidarbha by politicians who have come to power in the name of a separate Vidarbha and development of the region?” he asked.
“Industrialists choose to invest only in those places where there is an element of trust,” said Arvind Sawant, Lok Sabha MP from South Mumbai and spokesperson of the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray). “There is a trust deficit about the present government in the state. The flight of capital from Maharashtra is a matter of concern, especially for the youth here.”
Sawant questioned how the Safran project had exited its facility in Nagpur despite the presence of a conducive eco-system there. “It proves that the Shinde-Fadnavis government is not fit to rule and must resign,” he said, adding that basic issues confronting the state were being neglected. “What are the unemployed in Maharashtra supposed to do?” he asked, wondering aloud if industrial projects were being shifted to Gujarat with an eye on the state assembly elections there.
Supriya Sule, Lok Sabha MP, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), charged that “around four to five large projects” had chosen to exit their investments in Maharashtra. “Unfortunately, no one is willing to take responsibility for this, and hence I am requesting the chief minister to call an all-party meeting,” she said. “Otherwise a special assembly session must be called to discuss the exit of investments from Maharashtra.”
Shinde’s response to the allegations came through an informal chat with reporters on Sunday where he said the previous MVA regime had not responded positively to potential investors. “I have spoken to Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has assured me that Maharashtra will get major industrial investments,” he said.
In September, the Vedanta-Foxconn joint venture decided to set up their ₹1.54-lakh crore facility manufacturing semiconductor chips and a display fabrication unit in Gujarat. It is expected to create 1 lakh direct employment. The ₹2,300-crore bulk drug park, which has the potential to create around 80,000 jobs, will also come up in Gujarat instead of Raigad district in Maharashtra. Similarly, the ₹424 crore medical devices park, which was proposed at AURIC city in Aurangabad and the Airbus-Tata aircraft manufacturing plant (proposed at Mihan near Nagpur) will come up in Gujarat.