That MIHAN, once touted as India’s largest development project, has not come about as envisaged is an open secret. Not just has this mega project been a non- starter, it has affected all other sectors of the city – actually of entire Vidarbha – like Housing, Technical Education and Industries.
As we pointed out in yesterday’s story (MIHAN – Based on a false premise falls with a dominoes effect on the rest of the city) ambitious Malls and Housing projects like Empress City, Sahara City and First City have failed.
Engineering colleges of entire Vidarbha are suffering from lack of new enrollments and thus paucity of funds. Renowned Engg. and allied colleges have not been able to pay salaries to their Faculty for almost an entire year; senior Professors are leaving and joining colleges in Nasik and Western Maharashtra. We would not have had this sad scenario if MIHAN had taken off.
By now, it should be apparent to all our Planners and Policy makers, that no ‘cosmetic and superficial’ projects like the Cement Roads, Nagpur Metro or even Samrudhi Mahamarg can help Vidarbha, Nagpur and MIHAN.
Vidarbha, not being an independent entity cannot utilize its own Natural resources like Coal, Manganese and Forest produce to its advantage.
If it could, Power tariffs in neighboring states like Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh and Telengana wouldn’t have been lower than our’s making these states very attractive destination for industries, specially those that depend heavily on power. (They have tried to rationalize Power tarriffs now but it’s come a tad too late, when lots of Foundries and such have already shifted from MIDCs in Nagpur).
Forget matching rates with these ‘new states’ – as Vidarbha, we could offer the BEST rate and yet make profits on Power. How? It has been estimated that Nominal Tarriff, inclusive of fixed and variable costs can be fixed at Rs. 3.05 per unit for Thermal power stations of Vidarbha. We could offer power to industries at Rs. 4 – Rs. 5 and sell the rest to other states at commercially viable rates. Maharashtra could be one of them!
Today, we are not only forced to ‘give away’ bulk our power to rest of Maharashtra, we even have to share with them the ‘transmission losses’ of 20%.
It’s a thoroughly lose – lose situation for us now. We mine the coal; we transport it to Power plants; we run the power plants; we use up water for it and then we transmit it across our farms and forests. In doing each of these activities we suffer environmental and ecological damages; our trees are cut down, our forests are cut back, our water resources are used and polluted, and our power producing towns like Chandrapur – and now Nagpur too? – have become so hot and so polluted that over 50% of the population suffer from respiratory illness.
Secondly, take the case of Manganese – Vidarbha has mines that contain superior quality Manganese ore compared to mines in Chattisgarh or Telengana. But do we benefit from it industrially?
No. we just excavate the ore, selling it at around Rs. 60/ per ton. The trucks go to Chattisgarh carrying it because all the Processing and other down stream industries are based there. So much employment is being generated in this new state that it is not just difficult, it is impossible to find Chattisgarh labour in Vidarbha any more! Earlier they used to flock to Nagpur and other Vidarbha towns as Construction labour and to even work in our Ginning mills.
Processed Manganese is exported too. If working conditions had been fair in Vidarbha, such units could have been located in MIHAN.
Many export oriented units would voluntarily come to MIHAN once Nagpur became the capital city of an independent state.
Reason Number three – Almost two decades after MIHAN project began, cost of land has become prohibitively expensive here. As we have mentioned bef; utlore it costs Rs. 1 crore 16 lakhs per acre outside SEZ and Rs. 70 lakhs per acre within SEZ today. How many industries can afford this and still make their unit viable and profitable?
Even Japanese Giant pharma company Horiba could not afford it and chose to be located in Butibori instead of MIHAN.
It would be prudent to look at this costing of land and rationalize it.
Do not forget that even Baba Ramdev refused to buy land at these prices, ultimately you had to offer such ‘hefty discounts’ to Patanjali that ironically it raised costs even further for future buyers.
Now every new industry that is being wooed demands why it should not get same benefits as Patanjali?
Reason Number four – If Vidarbha were to become a separate state, its Chief Minister and its entire cabinet would be of, for and from Vidarbha. They could concentrate on ONLY Vidarbha and its development without having to worry about Marathwada, Konkan and the spoilt Western Maharashtra too.
Naturally, all the bureaucrats that would be looking after MIHAN would be sitting in Nagpur too, rather than Mumbai as the present scenario is. Finally we would have a MIHAN M.D. who would be present in Nagpur 24 * 7!!! (And we could also have officers who were not mostly retired people, who would be more energetic and enthusiastic about MIHAN because their future professional life would depend on its success.)
As Mr. Sinha, who was one of the first Directors of MIHAN commented to NT once, ” not having a local M.D. has made all the difference to MIHAN project.” (Ofcourse he meant adverse difference!)
Reason Number five – The most important reason.
As even Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar had pointed out, smaller states are easier to administer and can progress faster. Just for that reason, he was in favour of Vidarbha – in fact he had opined that Maharashtra should be divided in to four states.
Every Indian state compulsorily gets 42% of its development fund from the Union Government. Maharashtra gets it too, but how much of it percolates till Vidarbha is a very dubious and contentious point! THAT is the step motherly treatment our leaders have been protesting against for 5 decades!!
If Vidarbha happens we would get this fund for ourselves directly from the Central Government.
As Vidarbha proponent Prabir Chakravorty – IPS oficer, former DIG and Additional C.P. Mumbai, says ” this fund, coming to Vidarbha will me much more than what we get now; in fact make it, much, much, much more!!!”
But who are we trying to convince??
Watch this Youtube speech of our C.M. Fadnavis from 2013. Not just he, but almost all the Vidarbha leaders of BJP like Anil Sole, Mungantiwar, Ahir, Sancheti, Sudhakar Deshmukh, Banwarilal Purohit and Nana Patole (who has left BJP on such issues now) were with him when he had made his emphatic demand for Vidarbha in a deputation to then BJP President Rajnath Singh.
But ask him about Vidarbha and he now proclaims he is C.M. of ‘Akhand Maharashtra’.
The C.M. of the very state government he used to fulminate against over injustice to Vidarbha when he was an Opposition leader!
The state can get many able C.M.s – Vidarbha needs you Devendra, as never before.
Time is running out… take Nagpur, Amraoti, Wardha back to their original glory. Give us our state…our right to equality and equal progress.