Rs 18,000 cr MoUs for Vidarbha; power tariff a thorny issue

THE AMBITIOUS Advantage Vidarbha (AV) campaign got off to a positive start Monday with state government exchanging 25 Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) worth Rs 18,651 crore with industries from sectors such as textiles, steel, cement, cement products, logistics, food and chemical in the presence of a number of corporate leaders.

In what is by far the biggest-ever effort to market the backward region to the industry, industry stalwarts such as Tata Group of Companies' CMD Cyrus Mistry, Maruti Udyog Limited CMD R C Bhargava, JSW Steel CMD Sajjan Jindal, Raymonds Group CMD Gautam Hari Singhania and BHEL CMD V Prasada Rao, all prominent MLAs and MPs of the region, and Union Heavy Industries Minister Praful Patel were present besides top executives and owners of several small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Industries Minister Narayan Rane, Textile Minister Naseem Khan, Nagpur's Guradian Minister Shivajirao Moghe and a host of other ministers were present throughout the day.

"The response was more than expected. MoUs don't automatically mean the industries start, but it's a start," Chavan said. "AV is going to be an annual event, so attracting investments will continue to be an ongoing process."

The biggest investments attracted were from BHEL (Rs 2,500-crore fabrication unit), Ambuja Cement (Rs 3,300-crore cement plant), Manikgarh Cement (Rs 1,500 crore), Amba Iron and Steel (Rs 1,000-crore steel unit) and Bhushan Steel (Rs 1,300 crore).

The industry bigwigs were taken round the flagship MIHAN (multi-modal International Hub Airport at Nagpur) where world-class infrastructure has been created to attract investors without any tangible gains blamed generally on the post-2008 global economic slowdown.

In his key-note address, Mistry recalled the Tata Group's old relations with Nagpur where they started the Empress Mills in 1870s. "We now are coming up with Tata Consultancy unit at MIHAN with 16,000 jobs on offer and a housing project in the city," he said.

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