In an exclusive interview, Subhas Desai, Industry Minister, Government of Maharashtra, agrees on the need for water recycling projects in existing and upcoming industrial units, which help in drought-like situations.
What are the factors that are making Maharashtra the preferred investment destination in the country?
It has been proved again that Maharashtra is the most preferred destination for investment. And in the Make in India week, everyone could see that out of the total Rs 15 lakh crore worth memorandums of understanding signed, more than Rs 8 lakh crore were signed by the Government of Maharashtra.
So if you put all states together, the progress of Maharashtra is still better and ahead.
Meanwhile, the reason behind being on top of the chart is not just today´s phenomenon. Since the beginning, Maharashtra has carved out its own position. Ergo, we have successfully developed a complete ecosystem for the industries in Maharashtra. Since the government is industry-friendly, we have made the necessary changes matching with time. For ease of doing business, we have implemented many reforms and they have been welcomed by members of the industry.
For instance, we have launched the single window system - Maharashtra Industry, Trade & Investment Facilitation Cell (MAITRI). The cell will cater to industrial projects with an investment of Rs 10 crore and above. This facility allows assistance and guidance for clearances by the Government of Maharashtra related to various departments - industries, MIDC, revenue, urban development, irrigation, environment, labour, energy, PWD and sales tax.
What are your initiatives in the textile sector?
In the textile sector, the Maharashtra government had decided to set up 10 greenfield textile parks and only in cotton-growing areas. Earlier, we could see that all the industries developed in the cotton or textile sectors were in areas like Inchalkaranji, Bhiwandi, Malegaon and Mumbai, where no cotton is grown. But we have made a shift in policy. So our ministry has decided to set up these textile parks in Vidarhbha, Marathwada and Northern Maharashtra, where cotton is grown.
This is our focus area. The first model of textile park is already fully developed in Amravati and many leading brands including Raymond, Siyaram and Indo Shyam Fab have already made their presence.
What is the status on DMIC?
Since Maharashtra is one of the major partners in the development of the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor, the state government has already acquired around 4,000 hectares of land. Most importantly, we have already started constructing basic infrastructure structures such as roads, transmission, pipelines, etc. Through this DMIC, we wish to encourage electronics, defence manufacturing and auto industries in DMIC Auranagabd.
But why specifically focus on electronics?
There is a reason behind it. In electronics, Maharashtra has tremendous scope because it is estimated that India will import electronics goods worth more than that of crude oil. This has attracted our attention and according to our government the scenario must change. Since most of the electronic products are imported, my government in association with the Government of India has decided to encourage and support manufacturing the same domestically.
Foxconn has signed an agreement with us for Rs 35,000 crore, which is a huge investment. We had already decided to allot them land in Talegaon, which is around 500 acres. Likewise, we have many more plans and schemes and it will take the state´s industrial development altogether to a different level.
Ease of doing business purely depends on the permission required. How has the state fared on this front?
Unfortunately, our predecessors have neglected this particular aspect which you have raised in your question. The earlier regime neglected the importance of ease of doing business and instead imposed restrictions which has hampered the industrial movement.
But as soon as our government took charge, we brought down the number of permissions from 76 to 37, and we are further reducing it to 25. That´s an achievement in itself. To encourage more industries across the state, we have changed the method of giving NA permission for non-agricultural land. Earlier, to convert an agricultural land into non-agricultural, it was a tedious process where right from Talathi to Collector, (everyone) was involved. But now, (for) any agricultural land to be converted into industrial use, the proposal will straight go to the district collector and within 15 days he/she needs to take a decision.
So all these messages have created an impact in the minds of industrialists and they have decided to come back to Maharashtra. It was our government, which resolved the two-year long pending issue of the Schindler Group who are the makers of state-of-the-art elevators. They have already started the production last year, whereas recently, Otis inked a deal to manufacture customised elevators in Maharashtra.
Industries require a lot of water; how has the ministry taken proactive moves to safeguard this natural resource?
I am pained to see the sufferings of people in drought-prone areas. However, industries in such areas are also affected by water scarcity. We are closely interacting with the bigwigs on how to overcome this situation considering the given condition. In Maharashtra, there is a misconception that even water reserved for drinking purpose is diverted for industrialisation. Which is not true. We have a complete system here to follow and there is reserved 20 per cent water for industrial use in dams. Importantly, we never cross that limit. The topmost priority is for drinking water. Second is for agriculture and third is for industries.
Then, to overcome such issues, why not make it compulsory to reuse water?
Any situation gives opportunities and this is an opportunity for us to rethink on our water use. So for our MIDC areas, we are preparing a new water usage policy. Once we initiate this policy, all the existing and upcoming industries in MIDC areas must install water treatment plants that can be reusable for various purposes except drinking. In addition, the government will also assist with finance and technological knowhow with the help of private operators.
The industry department will also undertake a project under which the height of dams will be raised and lakes and water canals will be deepened to preserve drinking water in the future.
What is your vision on Maharashtra´ economy today and what is its outlook for the immediate future?
The economy can grow only when the youths of this country get skilled education and employment. In this regard, we have taken a quite a few steps. The Government of Maharashtra is in a joint venture with Germany-based Bosch to integrate their technical expertise with our Industrial Training Institutes. The company will revamp and redevelop the entire ITI structures (study and course material) in the state. So far we could see that all our ITIs used to teach fitting and carpentry, that´s all. But today´s modern day industry needs much more. So we need to introduce new courses based on new technologies.
By doing this, we have adopted the concept of education in a JV with technology. And looking at our efforts, corporates like Mercedes, Kalyani Group, Kirloskar and Volkswagen, to name a few, have associated with us for reshaping the state.