Come to Chhattisgarh for deals in food processing and IT: Chief minister (Interview)September 4th, 2011 - 11:52 am ICT by IANS
Raipur, Sep 4 (IANS) Chhattisgarh needs investment in downstream sectors - mainly in food processing and information technology (IT) - as the state has already enough in power and steel, Chief Minister Raman Singh has said.
“There are enough investment deals in power and steel and I don’t need investment in these areas till I reassess the availability of natural resources,” Singh told IANS in an exclusive interview.
“But there are massive opportunities in IT, automobiles, food processing, solar energy and, of course, infrastructure sectors such as road, health and education,” Singh said.
Chhattisgarh, where Singh has been heading the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government since December 2003, has around a fifth of India’s coal and iron ore reserves.
“I haven’t signed any investment deal in power and steel for a year,” Singh said. “That has been put on hold till the government takes stock of the availability of water, land and coal.” But it does not mean that things will remain so.
“There are dozens of power projects coming up in Korba, Janjgir and Raigarh districts and I may go in for investment deals in this sector for districts that really need them,” the 59-year-old Ayurvedic-doctor-turned-politician said. “But I have to wait because there are coal linkage problems with a few projects.”
He said that the Bhilai Steel Plant of Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) would be taking its production from 4.5 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) to 7.5 MTPA. “Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL) too is expanding hugely and it’s certain that the National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) is setting up a 3-MTPA plant in Bastar.
Asked to comment on the fate of two mega steel projects in the Maoist-hit Bastar region, he said: “The Tata Steel project in on track, but it is yet to pick up pace. On the other hand, Essar Steel is facing serious land acquisition problems.”
Tata Steel, India’s largest steelmaker in the private sector, had signed a deal in June 2005 with the Chhattisgarh government for setting up a 5-MTPA integrated steel unit in the Lohandiguda area in Bastar and Essar Steel had done so the same year for a 3.2-MTPA project in Dhurli and Bhansi villages in the Maoist heartland of Dantewada.
What has been Singh’s biggest achievement during his long tenure as CM? “It’s difficult to single out,” he said. “But it gives me a lot of satisfaction when poor people go to bed with a full stomach.”
He was referring to the government food security scheme under which 3.4 million families get 35 kg of rice each a month at Rs. 2 per kg. The poorest of poor get it for just Re. 1 a kg.
“My food security scheme covers about 65 percent population,” he said. “I have taken the public distribution system (PDS) away from businessmen and given it to village panchayats, forest co-operative committees and women self-help groups.”
It is to ensure that 35 kg of rice reaches each of the beneficiaries. “In a state where 49 percent people live below the poverty line, you could say that the success story of food security has been scripted.”
(Sujeet Kumar can be contacted at email@example.com)
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