Patna, Sept. 15: Top industrialists today acknowledged that the shortage of power was a big hurdle in the way of industrialisation in Bihar but assured the Nitish Kumar government of investing in the sector to enable the chief minister to achieve his target of making Bihar energy self-sufficient by 2014-15.
The promise was about the only one made at the first meeting of the Bihar State Industrial Investment Advisory Council (BSIIC) today.
The fact that none of the industrialists talked about a single large investment in the state is an indication that the government will have to deliver on the power front if it wants India Inc to take Bihar seriously as a business destination.
"The focal point of the first meeting of the Bihar State Industrial Investment Advisory Council (BSIIC) today was power. The state has made a very positive progress in the past six years when it comes to economic growth and law and order but the power situation needs to improve. The chief minister briefed the council about the present and pending power projects and the steps being taken by the state government for improvement in the power sector. We have assured the state government of full cooperation and support towards making Bihar self-sufficient in power by 2014-15," K.V. Kamath, chairman, Infosys, said after the meeting.
He added that a committee comprising council members and government representatives would help in the growth of agro-industries in the state. "The committee will be looking at ways and take steps to develop the sector. From now on, the council will meet regularly at intervals of every two to three months with the next meeting set two months from now," Kamath said.
Bihar chief secretary A.K. Sinha said the date and the venue of the next meeting was yet to be finalised.
HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh also expressed concern about the power sector.
"Bihar is the fastest growing state in the country right now but the per capita consumption of power is very low. But we are ready to invest in the power sector in Bihar. Another basic necessity for any industry to be set up is land. The housing price in the state capital is very high. There needs to be a regular supply of land for the industries and housing projects to be set up. Cheap housing for the people is very important," Parekh said.
SBI chairman Pratip Chaudhuri and Vedanta boss Anil Agarwal, who, incidentally is Patna-born, asserted that the chief minister had promised to bring about a change in the power sector.
Earlier, in talks with The Telegraph, industrialists said the government needed to act on land acquisition. "In Bihar, land records are not updated and there are so many claimants for one piece of land. If one party is ready to sell the land, others don't agree and soon a legal standoff starts. In such a situation, no investor will ever come forward to buy the land. The only solution is the government acquires the land and then creates a proper record. The land holding in the state is less than one acre per family," Satyajeet Singh, vice-president, eastern region, CII, told The Telegraph.
Hospital for Patna
There was some good news, however, with Analjit Singh, the managing director of Max New York Life, announcing the setting up of a 300-bed super speciality hospital in Patna.
"We will set up the hospital in Patna at a cost of around Rs 300 crore to Rs 350 crore. This is excluding the price of land," Singh said.