State’s industrial overdrive proving a chimera? 301 MoUs signed, 51 fructify in 10-yrs

Investment commitments made have touched over Rs 5.5 lakh crore, but the actual realisation till date has been mere Rs 46,311 crore

Bhubaneswar: The industrialisation overdrive by Odisha is yet to germinate on the ground. During the last ten-year period, Odisha Government had inked a whopping 301 MoUs but a mere 51 had started their operations in the State.

Moreover, while the investment commitments made have touched over Rs 5.5 lakh crore, the actual realisation till date has been mere Rs 46,311 crore. The State has a high of 11 districts that are still reeling under industrial impoverishment.

Replying to a question in the State Assembly, Industry minister Dibya Shankar Mishra has placed such grim facts regarding State’s stride in industrialisation. He informed that only 51 proposals have taken off, the worrying fact is nearly 10 of them had stopped their operations.

The hard stats look distressing when seen in the context of State government’s massive blitzkrieg for the last 4-years in wooing the domestic and foreign investors. Since 2016, the government had held two mega Make in Odisha conclaves, 24 road shows et al to hard sell destination Odisha.

Prior to last year’s mother of all conclaves, Make in Odisha-2.0, the State had held road shows and investors meet in countries like Japan, Korea, China, Italy and Saudi Arabia. And at the conclusion, the State had announced the big bang numbers of a whopping Rs 4.19 lakh crore commitments and grabbed the headlines.

However, in the Assembly, Minister Mishra submitted a written reply stating that during the last ten-year period, government has inked 301 MoUs with investment commitments to the tune of Rs 5.5 lakh crore only.

The minister has blamed the market factors, low ore price, poor financial condition of such units, raw material crunch owing to closure of mines et al for the closure of ten industrial units in the last decade.

Among the ten units closed, Keonjhar Sponge Iron Ltd is one among them. As per Minister’s reply, the unit was closed in 2012. A high of over 400 contract employees were retrenched. There were 454 regular employees and nearly 247 of them had taken retirement.

A reality check drops a shocker. Retrenched employees have been sitting in dharana for over 4 years or 1,537 days. Even, Odisha HC has directed to consider the just demand of the employees. But the actual progress on ground is nil. The mental and financial stress had taken a toll of 24 lives till date, claimed Ras Behari Nayak, a worker protesting at the dharana.

This episode has clearly blown up the State government’s mask of intent for industrialisation and employment in the State.

Terming the assertions of State government having a road map for fast industrialisation a smoke screen, BJP Chief Whip Mohan Majhi said minister’s statement has nailed the lie.

Senior BJP leader and Bargarh MP Suresh Pujari blamed State’s lack of intent. The government has failed miserably in providing the logistics and right ambience to boost industrial investment, he claimed.

Congress veteran and Jeypore MLA Tara Bahinipati criticised government’s industrial over drives like Make in Odisha conclaves. “Despite tall claims, the industrial scenario is zero in Odisha,” he ridiculed.