Nagpur Today: Only a week after Nagpur District Guardian Minister Shivajirao Moghe announced the ambitious event – Advantage Vidarbha – aimed at massive industrialization in the region with an expected investment of Rs 10,800 crore, the promising program seem to be losing its sheen. Going by the pace at which things are picking up, Advantage Vidarbha appears to be a far sighted dream, or may be just eyewash for Vidarbhites who hope to connect with mainstream development.
The two day event planned in first week of February, probably on 1st and 2nd, has been scheduled to be organised by Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) and Vidarbha Industries Association (VIA) at Hotel Centre Point in the city. Only two days back, a very urgent meeting was held in Mumbai to decide upon the minutes of Advantage Vidarbha like dates, event booklet, format for Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) and other related topics. Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and State Industries Minister Narayane Rane were surprisingly missing from this meeting. When asked in this regard, Guardian Minister Moghe defended saying that both the key leaders could not attend the meeting for their prior engagements in Cabinet meeting. This clearly underlines the ‘priority’ of the Chief Minister and Industries Minister.
Tall claims, less action
Anguished over the current turn of events VIA members raised the issues concerning Advantage Vidarbha before the Chief Minister Chavan who was in Nagpur on Thursday to lay the corner stone for two NTPC units of 660 MW each at Mouda in Nagpur district.
It may be noted here that leading names of Indian textile industry like OP Lohia of Indo Rama Synthetics, Gautam Singhania of Raymonds and BK Goenka of Wellspun are likely to participate in a panel discussion to be held during the event. Kishore Biyani of the Future Group, Dinesh Sahara of Ruchi Soya, Siraj Chaudhary of Carling India Private Limited and Shiva Nagrajan of Mother Dairy Food and Vegetables are other prominent names that will form the panel for a discussion about the Agricultural and Food Industry in the region, during the two- day program. Similar event was also held back in 2010 but ironically did not yield fruitful results for the betterment of Vidarbha. While earlier the emphasis was upon mining and insfrastructure, this time around Advantage Vidarbha would focus on enhancing textile sector.
Where are the investors?
While Moghe claimed an expected investment of Rs 10,800 crore in this event, the million dollar question here is where are the investors? Similar projection was made earlier too but it proved to be a damp squib. Moghe sent his representative and saved himself from the after effects. Repeated efforts were made during the past many years but key people keep away from the events. Many suggestions poured in but nothing implemented. A close observation at the development scenario in Mihan and Butibori clearly reveals that the industrialists have bought land but remain inactive on propelling their projects.
Another stark fact is that only gainers from such events like Advantage Vidarbha are the organizers, not the region and its people. The state government provides fund for conducting the event and the budget is kept between 1-2 crores. Sources revealed that the net spent on the event remains hardly in the bracket of Rs 60 to 70 lakh whereas rest of the money is pocketed by the organizers. The sponsorship money also adds to the earning. So it is clearly the harvesting season for the so called ‘harbingers of change’.
Naval Rathi, quite an unknown name in the industries fraternity has surfaced as the Convener of Advantage Vidarbha this time. While most of the people do not even know this person, nobody is willing to speak otherwise owing to the pressure from minister. This will clearly affect the sanity of the event.
Review before acting
A detailed homework should ideally be done to review why the previous efforts failed? Why the industrialists could not be attracted? How many suggestions that came were literally implemented till date? Who would be responsible to follow up the suggestions this time? How to ensure that the things discussed on the event’s platform would remain intact in letter and spirit? How to make sure that no leader would run away from the responsibility for the development of the region?
Let’s not make this effort in vain this time.