Patna, Oct. 8: The State Industries Promotion Board (SIPB) has approved projects worth Rs 3 lakh crore since 2006 but less than one per cent of the amount has fructified.
Industry captains said the state needs to do much more to provide an environment friendly for investment ' be it building infrastructure or taking care of teething problems.
"Since 2006, SIPB has approved projects worth Rs 3 lakh crore (approximately). Of this, projects worth just Rs 600 crore to Rs 700 crore are on the ground. The ground reality is that when it comes to industries, the government has still not been able to provide a friendly atmosphere. Just approving projects in the SIPB to show on paper the huge figures is not enough unless things are visible on the ground," Satyajit Kumar, vice-chairman, eastern region, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) told The Telegraph.
For some, however, the numbers are promising.
"Until now the SIPB has approved a total of 939 projects. Of this, 90 units are on the ground and operating. A total of 140 units are in their advanced stages, which means they will be completed very soon. More than 233 units will start production by March next year. So, of the approved projects, more than 20 per cent are, and will be, on the ground very soon. This of course is a good sign," countered .P. Sah, president, Bihar Chamber of Commerce and Industries.
"Now we are seeing proposals to set up cattle feed and poultry units as well as biscuit production plants. Things are moving in the right direction at the moment," he added.
Sah's optimism doesn't quite work with Ajit Sharan, the proprietor of the Kumhrar (Patna)-based Himalaya Food Products, a small unit that manufactures spices.
"I had come to the first Udyami Adalat on September 28 with my problem. I needed a bank loan of Rs 5 lakh to expand my business. For two years I have been running for it and at the Udyami Adalat, I was assured that my problem would be solved. On Friday, some officials of the department came to my place and said I cannot get the loan as I had applied for it under the Prime Minister's Employment Generation Programme. I wanted to apply for a normal bank loan two years ago but the manager of a nationalised bank in the city advised me to apply under the scheme stating that the process will be easy. Since then I have been running from pillar to post. Now I have been told that since I have a running business, I cannot get a loan under the scheme. Why isn't the right information being given to industrialists?" Sharan said.
CII's Kumar said land is a major issue, may be even bigger a problem than power scarcity. "Biada, on several occasions, has not been able to give physical possession of the land allotted to the investor. The government acquires land from a farmer, but doesn't protect it. With the land lying idle, the same farmer starts work there again until the government approves of an investor. Since land records are not maintained properly, the farmer now asks the government to pay the current rate for the land. This has a negative effect with the investor backing off," he said.
During SIPB meetings, any interested investor needs to submit a detailed project report and also point out the needs in terms of land and power.
"If the government cannot ensure land and power to the investor, why are the proposals approved? It is just about painting a rosy picture in terms of figures," another businessman, who requested anonymity, said.
Industries minister Renu Devi said investment was low because of the scarcity of power, but added that investors must look beyond Patna for land.