Infrastructure Opportunities in Gujarat

By Adam Pollard

The UK India Business Council led a multi-sector delegation to Western India earlier this month.

Our first stop was Ahmedabad, where delegates took part in the 6th Vibrant Gujarat summit, a conference meant to attract investment and connect businesses with opportunities in the state. In this month’s sector view, I will share with you some of the key messages that emerged from the conference.  Gujarat, a state that enjoyed a growth rate of 9.1% in 2012, is an ideal investment destination for UK companies. It was recently ranked India’s best for economic freedom, governance and inclusive growth, and has already invested heavily in infrastructure development.

At the inaugural session of Vibrant Gujarat, many industrialists such as Anil Ambani of Reliance Industries and K. Venkataramanan, CEO of L&T, echoed the same thoughts on the differences they see in Gujarat in terms of civil service, government enthusiasm, progressive labour force and advancement of infrastructure, compared to other states. Opening remarks by The British High Commissioner, Sir James Bevan, and UKIBC’s Chair, Rt Hon Patricia Hewitt, focussed on developing better cultural and business ties between the UK and Gujarat. The conference highlighted the state’s vast opportunities, particularly in clean energy, infrastructure and ports.

The Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) is the nodal agency for building the state’s infrastructure. They work with state departments to accelerate projects and providing a long-term outlook on sustainable infrastructure. GIDC is planning to set up 11 Special Investment Regions (SIRs) to absorb the growing population. The SIR Act enables the State Government to establish, develop and operate these regions.

The Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor DMIC, which passes through 6 states, has great plans for Gujarat. The DMIC will open opportunities and ease the state’s growing urbanised population, creating smart cities like Dholera which are being carefully planned to suit the needs of both the state and the country. With all of these initiatives taking place, there will be great need to develop integrated, smart and sustainable cities for both DMIC and SIRs. There will also be a great need for experts in urban transport, construction, town planning, developers and architects. British businesses from these areas were at Vibrant Gujarat, including Balfour Beatty, Turned Townsend, Serco, Gleeds, Atkins, Artistic Industries and Bradclad.

The delegation to Gujarat included a rare opportunity for UK delegates to meet with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi. At the conference, Minister Modi outlined sector opportunities for UK companies, and spoke about Gujarat’s location advantage, the state’s ports and their ability to connect the east to the west. Equally, participating UK companies had the chance to express their sector interests within the state. Although many companies in the UK are already involved in infrastructure projects, Chief Minister Modi said the state will seek investment and expertise to connect small and large cities and create gas-based cities, bringing liquid gas to rural areas.

Minister Modi has made progress on energy security within the state. Gujarat is now a leader in solar energy and the first Indian state to set up a department for climate change. In the meeting with UK delegates, Modi revealed the state’s plan to convert Gandhinagar into a model solar city. The Gujarat Energy Development Agency (GEDA) plays an important role in furthering plans for renewable energy, working with investors to set up solar power projects, commissioning wind power, biomass and waste-to-energy power generation projects.

The meeting concluded with the Government of Gujarat conveying the need to create a separate department within their government that can work with the UK going forward to ensure UK business interests are being represented within the state and matched to Gujarat opportunities.

The UKIBC-led delegation to Vibrant Gujarat gave participating UK businesses the unique opportunity to experience first-hand the rapidly changing environment in the state of Gujarat. The delegation then went on to visit Mumbai and the emerging city of Pune. To learn more about the visit and UKIBC’s infrastructure work in these regions, please contact:

Further Resources

‘Economic Freedom of the States of India 2012’, RBI

Gujarat Energy Development Agency GEDA

Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation GIDC

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