Maharashtra to offer free land to investors in backward regions

Written by Sanjay Jog | Mumbai | Updated: Feb 24 2009, 05:54am hrs
The Maharashtra government, facing stiff competition from neighbouring Gujarat, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Tamil Nadu in attracting investments, proposes to offer land free to investors who choose project sites in less-developed regions of the state.

However, the rider is that the investor should reserve 80% of the jobs for locals. Maharashtra governments decision is crucial as it had lost the Nano project to Gujarat. The state has planned 141 SEZs, of which, 43 have already been notified. These SEZs entail an investment of over Rs 1,50,000 crore. This apart, since the release of the mega project policy in mid 2005, the government has attracted investments of Rs 1,50,000 crore in over 110 projects.

The announcement in this regard was made by chief minister Ashok Chavan last week, at the foundation stone laying ceremony for an SEZ in Amravati, which is one of the five districts where a large number of farmer suicides have been reported. Chavan also assured the investors of a customised incentive package under the governments mega project policy if they prefer the less developed regions of Vidarbha, Marathwada and north Maharashtra.

A government official told FE on Monday, The chief minister has already directed the industries department to prepare a new industrial policy to incorporate various sops, including free land in regions which are less developed. The chief minister is very clear that development should not be limited to just Mumbai, Thane, Pune and Nashik, but new investments should be encouraged in other regions too. Ironically, investors are currently reluctant to think of other sites, largely due to logistical hurdles. However, they may consider various districts in the Vidarbha region, as the government is implementing the multimodal international hub airport at Nagpur (MIHAN). The government has already taken up the issue of the improvement of rail and air links in the Marathwada region with the Centre to attract investments.