After many years, there is some good news about Bihar that gives some hope of resurgence. Bihar has recently played host to a number of big names of corporate India, like Ratan Tata of the Tata group, Max Healthcare Chairman Analjit Singh and Ashok Ganguly of ICICI OneSource.
To start with, the Tata group may be exploring the possibility of investing in low-cost hotels in the state. Some well wishers of Bihar are also toying with the idea of offering better concessions for Tata’s pet project- Rs 1 lakh car plant in Bihar that is facing a lot of political problems in acquiring land at Singur in West Bengal. Bihar will certainly be a better location with the militant unionized workforce of Bengal. Max Healthcare is looking to set up a super-specialty healthcare centre and hospital in Patna. It is not only that the maximum numbers of patients come from Bihar to Delhi; Delhi also must be having the maximum number of doctors of Bihari origin.
Anand Mahindra on his visit to Patna announced a slew of investments in Bihar that includes a satellite assembling plant in Patna similar to its units in Rudrapur and Jaipur, an investment business to tap rural savings, an agro-processing unit for lichis and mangoes of Bihar, investments in IT, a Mahindra resort in Bodh Gaya and Rajgir and investment in a non-polluting transport system. The Nitish government has already worked out elaborate plans to promote Rajgir-Bodhgaya-Gaya circuit on the international tourism map along with an International University. Mr Ratan Tata supported the state government’s plan to set up golf courses near Rajgir-Nalanda, besides setting up of five-star hotels to promote tourism in the area.
Bihar has also accepted the proposal by a Tamil Nadu-based firm, M/S Indian Gasohol Limited for setting up four maize-based industrial units in Bhagalpur, Muzaffarpur, Begusarai, and Vaishali for an estimated investment of Rs 2,500 crore. As stated by Ratan Tata, chairman of the Investment Commission, ‘the commission stands committed to facilitating Bihar’s development and to promoting it as an investment destination’.
With the change in the perception of investor-friendliness, the Bihar government has received a large number of investment proposals for sugar mills, malls, multiplexes, hospitals, and particularly educational institutes. A good percentage of them have got the approval too. Proposals for setting up eight new multi-purpose sugar mill complexes in Madhubani, East Champaran, Saran, Muzaffarpur, Madhepura, Begusarai and Nalanda districts with the capacity of crushing 65,000 tonne sugarcane per day involving an estimated investment of Rs 2,157 crore are in hand of the government.
The aggressiveness of the government is clear from the appointments of the reputed persons such as NK Singh, the former revenue secretary and planning commission member as the chief of state planning commission and Muchkund Dubey, former Foreign Secretary to head the Common School System Commission, a high level team comprising two Secretary level officials on Sunday to Hong Kong on a “brand Bihar mission” to participate in a four-day conference on tourism, and the planned major meet early next year to woo non-resident Indians (NRIs) from the state.
The state is under a process of image building for an investor-friendly state. It promises certain advantages over already developed states in terms of cheap real estate prices, limited labour-related issues and a large educated manpower at nearly one-third the cost compared to cities like Bangalore or Chennai. However, Bihar is still to go miles before it does some significant improvement in infrastructure, socio-economic backwardness, and law and order.
Will the interests shown by so many of biggies translate into actual investment in Bihar? It will certainly depend on the initiatives and assistance provided by the government over the time. CM and his team will have to work hard to make it. Many are watching the three states of eastern India- Bihar, Bengal and Orissa. It is for the time to judge who proves really better.
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