Young and dynamic

Published : Nov 03, 2006 00:00 IST

This relatively new State has now taken concrete steps for economic progress.

CHHATTISGARH is a relatively new State, but it has quite a few inherent advantages that will be major factors in its industrial progress; foremost among them is its huge reserve of mineral deposits. The main objective of the new industrial policy of the State is to derive maximum value from these resources and create jobs by setting up industries in all the districts.

The State government has realised that Chhattisgarh can become a "developed State" only if its industrial growth rate increases substantially and that can only happen when there is a favourable environment for investment. Hence, attempts are on to make the administration investor-friendly and to provide the necessary infrastructure.

Special importance is given to private sector participation as well as industrial development in the backward regions. Entrepreneurs from the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes are encouraged to participate in the process of industrial development. Some of the thrust industries identified by the State are - automobile and auto components manufacturing units, medicinal, aromatic and dye plants, engineering, food processing, downstream products based on aluminium, information technology and bio-technology, food processing and electronic consumer products and pharmaceuticals.

The industrial sector contributes around 30 per cent of the State's gross domestic product (GDP). Quite a few industrial units have been set up. These include seven large cement plants with installed capacities of 12 million tonnes per annum; 23 sponge iron units with a capacity of 22 lakh tonnes; 99 steel re-rolling mills with a capacity of 12.7 lakh tonnes and 16 ferro-alloy units with a capacity of 2.1 lakh tonnes. Of these, 30 re-rolling mills and 13 ferro-alloy units, which were closed, have re-commenced production in the past three years.

Bharat Aluminium Company (Balco) has plans to increase production capacity from the present 1 lakh tonnes to 4 lakh tonnes, with an investment of around Rs.6,000 crores. Apart from these large- and medium-scale industries which employ more than 230,000 people, the small-scale sector also provides substantial job opportunities. The State commands the top position in sponge iron production, at over 50 lakh tonnes a year. The annual production of aluminium has increased in a very short time from 1 lakh tonnes to 3.45 lakh tonnes.

Bhilai is known for its public sector Steel Plant and its ancillaries. The region also contains 27 small industries that have been set up at an investment of more than Rs.115 crores.

The Urla Industrial Area in Raipur stretches over 815 hectares and houses 60 large- and medium-scale industries and 550 small-scale units, employing over 16,000 people. More than Rs.400 crores been invested here and a dry port has been set up to facilitate export and import. The 1,260-hectare Siltara Growth Centre is located near Raipur. It has three large and nine small industrial units and a private power plant. More than Rs.700 crores have been invested here and there are proposals to establish two sponge iron plants, one ferro-alloy plant, and one LPG re-filling unit.

The Sirgitti Industrial Centre is located in Bilaspur and is spread over 430 hectares. It houses seven large- and medium-scale industries and 195 smaller units. With an investment of Rs.95 crores, the Centre provides employment to 4,500 people. The headquarters of the Bilaspur Railway Zone and the South Eastern Coalfield are also located here. The Borai Industrial Centre in Durg is spread over 174.8 ha. A water supply scheme is under implementation here with private sector partnership, with a projected capacity of 30 million litres a day.

The State government intends to make full use of Chhattisgarh's rich bio-diversity to make it a "herbal State". It has delineated around 4 lakh acres of unmodified natural ecosystems for `in situ' conservation. With non-destructive harvesting, value addition, primary processing and certification of herbal products, Chhattisgarh is poised to be in a position to supply raw material to meet the growing demand of the ever-expanding overseas market in the sector.

The international market for herbal medicine is estimated at around $60 billion. In Chhattisgarh, about 7,000 Joint Forest Managing Committees and another 913 Primary Committees are involved in the herbal medicine trade. A State Herbal Medicine Board has been set up. Chhattisgarh is also famous for its rice mills; there are more than 700 mills.

The State has initiated an innovative public-private partnership model in the forestry sector. Degraded forest land is given to the village-level forest committee, which in turn signs a memorandum of understanding with an entrepreneur for supply of seedlings, with a guarantee for a buy-back of the produce. At present, two leading industrial houses - Orient Paper Mill and Mangalam Timber Products Ltd - are engaged in such partnership.

The region is famous for its tussar silk and traditional bell metal products. The State's tussar cloth, dress material, furnishing cloth and carpets in particular have found a huge market in Japan, the United States and parts of Europe. The State is also a prominent centre for inter-State cloth trade.

An Apparel Park has been proposed at Raipur. The State government is building infrastructure for industrial centres, focussing on the least developed districts such as Sarguja, Kawardha and Raigarh. The State is also developing Food Parks, Agro Parks, an Aluminium Park, an IT Park and a Gem and Jewellery Park.

Chhattisgarh has signed MoUs with industrial groups for investments to the tune of Rs.50,000 crores, of which Rs.8,143 crores has already been invested. Land has been acquired for the mega steel plants to be set up by the Tatas, the Essar Group and IFFCO in Bastar and Sarguja districts. These projects are expected to bring in investments of over Rs.23,000 crores. In just one year, 38 medium and 813 small industrial units have been set up.

The power sector is a major focus area. Chief Minister Raman Singh said: "Increasing power production has been included in our efforts to use the natural resources for the State's prosperity. The government wants to set up as many power plants as possible using the available water and coal deposits, so that the people of Chhattisgarh never face power crises."

It is in Korba, also known as Chhattisgarh's `power capital', that major power-generating units of the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), the Chhattisgarh State Electricity Board (CSEB) and Balco are located.

Apart from the natural resources that can be used for pit-head thermal power generation, there is also potential for power generation from non-conventional energy sources, such as rice husk; a 330 MW project is under construction. With several projects nearing completion, the State is assured of 7,500 MW power production. There has been no hike in power tariff over the past four years, and the domestic and industrial tariff rates are lower than those in neighbouring States.

A total of 35,000 pumps have been energised. The Atal Jyoti Yojana was launched at a cost of Rs.618 crores to provide separate electricity transmission lines for irrigation pumps.

The Raman Singh government increased the allocation for the Public Works Department by 12 per cent this year. Top priority is being given to the construction of a road network across the State. Proposed investments in roads add up to over Rs.3,000 crores, with part of the funds coming from the Asian Development Bank. A four-lane road has been built and two more are being built. Some 3,100 km of roads are being upgraded to international standards at a cost of Rs 2,000 crores.

Chhattisgarh accounts for more than 13 per cent of India's total mineral production, worth around Rs.4,000 crores a year. Twenty-three per cent of the country's iron ore deposits, 14 per cent of the dolomite deposits, and 6.6 per cent of the limestone deposits are located here. As for coal reserves, Chhattisgarh ranks third after Jharkhand and Orissa, holding about 18 per cent of the total deposits.

The State has substantial reserves of gold, minerals such as bauxite, quartzite, corundum and alexandrite, precious and semi-precious stones such as diamond. With the new mining projects initiated by the State government, the industrial potential can only increase.

Large reserves of diamond-bearing kimberlite tracts have been discovered in Payalikhand and Behradin in Raipur district and Tokapal in Bastar. Deposits of alexanderite are present in Deobhog block of Raipur district. Eight blocks have been demarcated for diamond exploration and opened up for private participation. Leading multinationals such as De Beers, RioTinto and BHP Billiton have shown an interest in prospecting for diamond, gold and other precious minerals here.

Once full production in the diamond mines start, Chhattisgarh will find its place in the select group of the world's top 22 economical diamond producers. Large deposits of corundum, including semi-precious varieties of ruby and blue sapphire, have been found in the southern part of the State.

The pride of Chhattisgarh's mineral wealth is undoubtedly its 2,336-million-tonne reserve of iron ore. The deposits in Bailadila are considered to be among the best iron ore in the world and have a strong market in Japan. Other deposits are in Chote Dongar, Rawghat, Chargaon, Metabodli, Hahaladdi, Boriya Tibbu and Dali Rajhara. The mines in Dali Rajhara supply iron ore to the Bhilai Steel Plant. In the 12 coalfields in Sarguja, Koriya, Korba and Raigarh districts, 38,135 million tonnes of deposits are available .

However, Raman Singh feels that the mineral resources of the State are not being allowed to be used for the State's benefit.

He told Frontline: "The coal and iron ore deposits, which are largely under the NMDC, are exported to other countries and for the use of other States, but there are no investments in Chhattisgarh. We have decided that those who wish to invest in the Bastar region will be given full use of the iron ore deposits there. At least the people in the region will get employment, and there will be development in the region itself."

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