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Make in Odisha 2020 still on track, says government

Odisha’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis has been a great advertisement of the Naveen Patnaik administration’s efficiency and proactive governance, Sharma said. In fact, the crisis has put Odisha in a much better position to attract investments during the third edition of the meet, scheduled for end-November, he added.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Jun 03, 2020, 12.45 AM IST
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Make in Odisha
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BHUBANESWAR: Make in Odisha, the state’s marquee event, will be held at the end of the year and there is no let-up in the state government’s efforts to make the investment meet a success, industry secretary Hemant Sharma told ET.

“We had detailed deliberations with the Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade and Invest India; we've spoken to potential American and Japanese investors and industry associations such as CII and Ficci. We will be very soon having a special webinar focussed on steel, steel-downstream and petrochemicals," Sharma said.

Odisha’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis has been a great advertisement of the Naveen Patnaik administration’s efficiency and proactive governance, Sharma said.

In fact, the crisis has put Odisha in a much better position to attract investments during the third edition of the meet, scheduled for end-November, he added.

The pandemic and resultant lockdown has exposed the vulnerabilities of more urbanised and industrial states that Odisha was competing with, Sharma said, adding the state provides political stability, policy certainty, and large non-urbanised areas to set up large steel and aluminium complexes.

"The migration inflow was expected but only 15% of our temporary medical centres are occupied, Covid-19 hospitals have even lesser occupancy, our ventilators are lying idle. Early curtailment of flights and railways and proper testing of symptomatic and asymptomatic cases have helped Odisha handle the crisis much better than most states,” Sharma said.

“I am not saying it is contained - this is a long-haul battle - but if a new medical devices complex was looking at Ahmedabad (earlier) they will now look at Odisha,” he said.

When companies decide to invest, Odisha will be looked at more favourably than before. "There has been some slowing of activity on account of logistics constraints, dependence on highly skilled talent or particular equipment from abroad. But the industry is very keen to start construction work; we are, in fact, under pressure to ease restrictions in the Cuttack-Bhubaneswar area to allow them," Sharma said.

On offer are 800 acres for a Textile Park at Malipada, a 1,000-acre port-based textile park at Dhamra, a 1,000-acre medical park at Dhenkanal and a 500-acre petrochemical -downstream park at Balasore with a combined potential of Rs 24,300 crore of investments. Officials claim textile manufacturers from Tirupur in Tamil Nadu, and Chandigarh had evinced serious interest.

Three industrial water pipeline projects of Rs 1,000-crore each at Naraj (Cuttack), Akhaupada (Bhadrak) and Tarapur (Jagatsinghpur), the Rs 750 crore Kalinganagar Steel cluster and a massive mines-to-port metal corridor are among projects in the Rs 100 lakh crore investments being collated by the Niti Aayog. Odisha wants the Centre to provide financial support to get these going.

Sharing stage with Mukesh Ambani, Anil Agarwal, Kumaramangalam Birla, at the dazzling Make in Odisha 2018 event, steel tycoon Sajjan Jindal whose stakes in the state have increased considerably, bet on Odisha's potential of becoming a trillion-dollar economy. The department did not share how much investment it had attracted in the last two years.

Sharma also defended as "ethical and not anti-labour" the recent amendment to labour laws that now allows units with up to 300 workers to fire people or shut without prior government approval and also impose longer working hours.

Describing it as a balance between the industry's need and social distancing rules, he said, “It is based on workers’ consent. And they will be getting more overtime hours and pay. We have increased shifts to 11 hours, not 12, with two breaks in between. Instead of running three shifts, you could operate in two shifts; that way the workers also commute fewer times.”
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