21 Mar 2006
â€œCome as a visitor, stay as an investorâ€ â€” thatâ€™s the message Uttaranchal has for you. The state not only enjoys proximity with the national capital New Delhi (which is just 250 km away), but has a high literacy rate of over 73% and a population which widely speaks and understands English.
The state is a safe and secure destination for investors, has a tourist-friendly environment, with a culture of â€˜Athithi Devo Bhavaâ€™ or â€˜Guest is Godâ€™. Sanjeev Chopra, Secretary (Industries), Uttaranchal, elaborated on the goals and objectives of the government.
The state aims to augment capital, infrastructure and resources, and promote technology and innovation for agricultural and industrial upgradation. He said that efforts are being made to make the government effective, transparent, responsive and accountable. The Uttaranchal government aims to encourage public-private participation in infrastructure development and delivery, Mr Chopra pointed out.
Describing Dehradun as the â€˜Knowledge Capitalâ€™ that boasts of many famous organisations like the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, FRI, IMA, DEAL, IRDE and IIP, Mr Chopra said that Doon Valley is the nerve centre for quality education with institutions like Doon School, Welhams and RIMC. Uttaranchal also offers the best in technical education and has institutions like UPES, ICFAI and Doon University. The state has eight universities, 63 colleges and 19 technical colleges.
The state has well-known tourist spots like Panchachuli Peak, Bedini Tal, Bedini Bugyal, Harsil, Narayan Ashram, Nabi Village, Valley of Flowers and Om Parwat; religious places like Badrinath Temple, Kedarnath Temple, Gangotri Temple, Yamonatri Temple and Rudraprayag and national parks like Corbett National Park and Rajaji National Park bear testimony to Uttaranchalâ€™s natural beauty.
Elaborating on the economic front, Mr Chopra said the credit-deposit ratio of state banks in the state for the period ended December â€™05 was 42.01% and the credit-plus investment to deposit ratio was 49.28%. This is a steep rise from the credit-deposit rate of 18% in â€™01-02. Loan disbursement in priority sector was Rs 3,447.95 crore, with agriculture and allied services accounting for Rs 1,147.03 crore and small-scale industries and others Rs 2,300.92 crore. Speaking of state exports, he said Uttaranchal exported goods worth Rs 350 crore in â€™04-05, from units primarily located in Dehradun, Nainital, Haridwar and Udham Singh Nagar. He identified the agriculture and medicinal plants, engineering goods, handicrafts and drawing and survey instruments as sectors with potential for high growth in exports. He listed a slew of measures that the government has taken to attract investment in various sectors
Special incentives for tourism include exempting new tourism units from luxury tax and new ropeways installed from entertainment tax for five years from the date of commencement, and exempting new amusement parks from entertainment cost for five years from the date of becoming fully operational. These measures, along with a 100% exemption from entertainment tax for new multiplex projects for a period of three years and the conversion of land use being made admissible for hotels, motels, resort, health spa, yoga and meditation centre, tourist village entertainment/amusement/water park/natural and botanical park, would accelerate tourism growth in the state.
IT & ITeS
The Uttaranchal government will provide free bandwidth up to two Mbps to all IT and ITeS companies, call centres and BPO, among others, for a year. The companies will get 100% exemption on central excise for 10 years, 100% exemption on income tax exemption for the first five years and a 30% exemption for the next five years. Others would get an exemption of 25% for the same period and there would be a capital investment subsidy of 15% with a maximum of Rs 30 lakh. The State Industrial Development Corporation of Uttaranchal (SIDCUL) is setting up a 65-acre state-of-the-art software technology park at Dehradun with intelligent buildings and a hi-tech habitat centre. In addition, an STPI earth station will be set up at Dehradun with a connectivity of up to 100 mbps. Reliance Infocomm, BSNL and VSNL are laying a fibre optics network. The state government has signed MoUs with Cisco Systems, Intel Corporation, IBM and others for setting up research academies.
Around 40 acres of the 65-acre IT Park at Shastradhara Raod, Dehradun was saleable. The built-up space would be 40 lakh sq feet and the park will soon have roads, drainage, sewerage, water supply, provision for internal electrical and telecom/data connectivity. Doon Cyber Tower will have a 4-lakh sq feet built-up area. The construction will commence in March â€™06 and the target for completion is January-March â€™07.
MoUs have been signed with Microsoft IT academy, Shikhar project, Intel Technology India and CISCO. The state is developing infrastructure by creating a State IT academy at hermitage building, Nainital, specialised e-governance projects and standards for-governance applications.
He said private sector IT parks have been successful and the state has the fastest growing BPO sector, with 26 BPOs, including Astra, with 500 seats already operational. HCL will commence operations by April.
The state has a vision to be Indiaâ€™s leading player in biotechnology by â€™14. It is developing infrastructure for housing state-of-the-art facilities and promoting human resource development in bio technology to catalyse new ideas. The Uttaranchal government has taken initiatives to set up a world class bio-IT park on 500 acres of land abutting NH-87 that would also house a bio-incubator and engage a professional advisor to catalyse the park development based on a public-private partnership model.
The government has taken various initiatives for forest and rural development, too. It has created the agriculture export development unit (AEDU), which is the nodal agency for implementation of infrastructure initiatives in the sector and has the responsibility of processing horticulture technology mission in the state. Four agriculture export zones (AEZ) have been created for litchie, basmati, floriculture and aromatic and medicinal plants. The AEZ for walnut, exotic and off-season fruits and vegetables and organic produce are being set up. AEZ would also facilitate fiscal incentives, provide technical assistance, infrastructure and logistic arrangements and escort service to entrepreneurs.
The government wants to make Uttaranchal the organic capital of India and has declared it an organic state. A team of 20,000 farmers in 1,200 bio-villages are being formed. A thousand hectares has been certified as organic as per international norms, more than 75 product ranges are available, and a dedicated agency provides a single window for forward link.
The surplus production of horticulture and agriculture crops and a large livestock population provide several opportunities. Floriculture sector provided opportunities for corrugated packaging and bottle and can manufacturing, establishing cold chain infrastructure, herbal pharmaceutical and cosmetics, and Basmati processing and storage facility. He acknowledged the need to augment state capabilities and service delivery by expanding the trained and skilled workforce, implementing positive policy and procedural environment, developing adequate public and social infrastructure and efficient urban and rural services.
The growth would be achieved by focussing on providing support to â€œgrowth pillarsâ€ like road, civil aviation, transportation, irrigation, urban development and rural up-gradation. This, he said, would be attained by leveraging strength through â€œgrowth leadersâ€ such as power, tourism, industrial development, agribusiness, information technology and biotechnology. The state has institutionalised development by creating various institutions, each catering to a specific sector.
This, it hopes, will help in speedy resolution of investment issues and will proactively resolve investorsâ€™ grievances or needs. Medicinal Plant Board, Tourism Board, Livestock Board, Organic Board, Bio-Fuel Board, Bamboo and Fibre Board, SIDCUL, ITDA, UDeC and AEDU have been set up for the purpose.
Mr Chopra emphasised that for a land-locked state with limited surface connectivity, developing air connectivity was of immense importance. He said the test runs of air travel have been successful in Uttaranchal and the state aims to be among the top global tourism destinations by 2010. The thrust would be on targeting high spending tourists, both international and high-end domestic ones.
Top domestic and multinational companies have already committed investments exceeding Rs 20,000 crore. He also said that disaster relief and management work could be undertaken more effectively if air connectivity is provided to disaster prone areas.He said the state had two airports at Jolly Grant and Pant Nagar, three airstrips at Chinyalisaur, Gauchan and Naini Saini and six helistrips at Yamunotri, Gangotri, Badrinath, Kedarnath, Hemkund and Haridwar. Business opportunities existed for investors in the sector and the Uttaranchal government would support infrastructure development by entering into partnerships or JVs, he said.
News Source: http://economictimes.indiatimes.com