UK India News


An interview: Maheshwar Sahu, IAS , Principal Secretary, Industries and Mines Department, Government of Gujarat

22 January 2013012013
Gujarat is one of the fastest-growing and most developed states in India. Its strategic location on the western coast of the country and the State Government's emphasis on transparent, progressive and empowered governance and infrastructure-led development have helped it rapidly become a preferred choice for both domestic and international investors.

Mr. Maheshwar Sahu, IAS , Principal Secretary, Industries and Mines Department, Government of Gujarat explains why he believes Gujarat continues to be at the forefront of India's economic development.

Economically speaking, what are the strengths of Gujarat and what is the contribution of the state to the overall Indian economy?

Gujarat has over the past decade continued to register double digit growth. This has firmly embedded the state in its position as one of the leading growth drivers in the country. Gujarat today contributes in excess of 16% of the country's industrial output, and more than 22 % of Indian exports, despite being home to less than 5% of its population.

For an investor in the UK wanting to invest in India, and specifically in Gujarat, what are the large project opportunities available?

Gujarat offers a vast array of opportunities to investors in almost all sectors. Our aim has always been to support investors realize their dreams.

The state government is of the opinion that for any destination to attract investments, urban and industrial infrastructure is of prime importance. Gujarat has invested a considerable amount of time and money over the past decade in developing its core infrastructure and we are committed to improving things further.

Large projects like the proposed Special Investment Region (SIR) at Dholera (a fast-emerging town about 60 miles away from Ahmedabad, Gujarat's biggest city), the Petroleum, Chemical & Petrochemical Investment Region (PCPIR) at Dahej (about 64 miles from Vadodara, Gujarat's second largest city), the Gujarat International Finance-Tec City (GIFT) in Gandhinagar, the State capital, the Metro-link express for Gandhinagar to Ahmedabad (MEGA) and Delhi- Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) are poised to transform the industrial scenario in the state.

Apart from these, the State offers serious investors immense opportunities in renewable energy, manufacturing, ports & shipbuilding, and the agri and food processing sectors to name a few.

So, when you say that the government is committed to providing industrial infrastructure to businesses, can you give some idea on the kind of facilities and infrastructure which is already in place?

All the industrial zones and estates, the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and Special Investment Regions (SIRs), are fully equipped with adequate water supply, 24x7 power, good road connectivity and even rail connectivity to an extent.

Gujarat is a power surplus State despite having one of the highest per capita power consumptions in the country, has high tele-density and excellent internet access.

We are strongly of the belief that if we are able to provide world-class infrastructure to companies,
investments are bound to come to the State. And, that's precisely what our experience has shown over the years.

For handling such massive investments which have been made and which are expected to be made in Gujarat, how have you formed the State-level policies and what are the kinds of incentives available?

Gujarat's Industrial Policy focuses on robust, sustainable and inclusive growth. Gujarat is a state with investor-friendly policies and a transparent and progressive regulatory environment. The government has gained an enviable reputation for its processes and procedures. The Gujarat government was ranked 2nd amongst all state governments in the world by the International Council of United Nations Public Service Award. The government believes in encouraging private companies' participation through the Public-Private-Partnerships (PPP) model. And, the tax structure in the State is at par with other favourable business destinations in Asia.

On another note, Gujarat was the first state in India to develop and implement a comprehensive Solar Power Policy in 2009. There are several such initiatives that the state is known for. We were the first state to support private ports, set up an LNG terminal and develop a state-wide gas grid that
spans over 1,500 miles.

Gujarat is also known for the quality of its skilled human resources, which is a result of the government's focus on continuing to invest in education for its people across the state. Sustainable, business friendly and all-inclusive growth is what Gujarat stands for.

What are the social prospects for international investors in the state?

Gujarati life is not only about business. Gujarat offers an extremely rich and diverse natural and cultural experience that embraces people from different parts of the world with equal warmth. The State also offers great recreational opportunities, a reasonable cost of living and superb food experience. Academically, it is home to some of the most to renowned institutions of higher learning in management, engineering, design and the arts.

In your efforts for attracting investments in the State, the government has initiated the 'Vibrant Gujarat Summit' campaign, tell us more about this.

Since 2003, the Vibrant Gujarat Summits have gone from strength to strength. They are acknowledged to be the premier platform for investments and discussions around sustainable development in Asia. Gujarat has emerged as the growth engine of India. The past five summits have cumulatively seen investment proposals announced worth in excess of $800bn, the last summit in 2011, which saw participation from over 100 countries, accounted on its own for over half this number.

The Vibrant Gujarat Summit in 2013 aims, once again, to take a quantum leap forward. Scheduled for the 11th, 12th and 13th of January 2013, it promises to see a galaxy of global business and thought leaders coming together to provide inspiration for a new era of inclusive and sustainable growth.

Maheshwar Sahu, Ias,
Principal Secretary, Industries
and Mines Department,

Government of Gujarat

This article originally appeared in UKIBC Business Exchange Magazine, click on the image below to read the relevant edition.

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