Talking Point: All’s well, but investments not coming2 min read
ROAD connectivity has bettered in Bihar in last ten years with people now travelling to Patna from any corner of the state in six to seven hours. Power availability is up from around 600 mega watt in 2006 to over 3,000 mega watt in 2015. There is already abundant surface and subsurface in the state which can also boast of rule of law so much so that men and women now, unlike the 1990s, walk on the streets till late in the night. Yet, industrialisation is not happening. The result? At least five lakh people continue to migrate from Bihar to metropolitan cities and industrial hubs of the country for employment every year.
Trade and industry sources explain mega investments have eluded Bihar despite the state being supportive of possible investors because of traditional mindset of landowners.
“There is an old saying the main reason for every bloodbath in history has been ‘Jar, joru or zameen’. Biharis go to any extent to ensure they do not have to part with their land even if they are offered the best compensation. If the state has to move on the road of industrialization, this mindset of landowners will have to change,” said Ajay Singh, an entrepreneur dealing in electrical equipment.
Singh said our leaders take pride in claiming that if people of Bihar, who have migrated to Delhi, decide not to work for a day, life in the National Capital Region will come to a standstill. “We fail to understand why the state government in last 10 years did not devote time to change the mindset of people so that land is easily available to industries and our people are not forced to lead a life of domestic help, driver, security guard or the like hundreds and thousands of kilometres away from their near and dear ones,” said Singh.
Bihar Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s secretary general-elect Shashi Mohan also admits resistance to acquisition of land for industries is a major stumbling block in the way of industrialisation in Bihar. “But we have also failed to attract mega investments due to frequent fights between the Centre and the state government which sends a wrong message to possible investors,” said Mohan, who is in aqua culture business.
According to Mohan, if the government announces tax holiday for investors and not just tax rebate or depreciation benefits, there may be a change in investment pattern for the better and big ticket companies could pump funds in Bihar.
A reputed industrialist, preferring anonymity, said no major player would come to Bihar till they are convinced of their safety and security in the long run.
“An industry is set up for decades, not years. An investor will have to pump at least Rs 10,000 crore and purchase a plot of over 500 acres. But the scary stories of 1990s have still not faded from the memories of business community. Unless the state government proactively ensures protection of investors, major industrial players would continue to skip Bihar,” he said.