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|November 4, 1997||
Fiat, Skoda automobiles to set up plants in Maharashtra
Two world automobile giants -- Skoda of the Czech Republic and Fiat of Italy -- have decided to set up manufacturing units in Maharashtra, amounting to a total investment of Rs 21 billion.
Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Gopinath Munde, who led a six-member official delegation to the Czech, Italy, France and Britain recently, told reporters in Bombay on Monday that a letter of intent was signed between Skoda Automobiles and the state government, expressing the company's desire to manufacture about 60,000 to 80,000 cars per annum in its first phase of operation at an estimated cost of Rs 11 billion.
Similarly, a memorandum of understanding between the state government and Fiat Automobile would be signed soon to set up Fiat car project at an estimated cost of Rs 10 billion. Munde, who met Fiat Managing Director Roberto Testore, explained in detail the various incentives the state government was considering to offer for the mega projects coming up in the Aurangabad and Vidarbha regions.
The government intends to provide 25 per cent more incentives for projects that are coming up in regions like Shendri near Aurangabad and Ranjangaon in Vidarbha than places like Chakan near Pune. While the Skoda project is likely to come up near Aurangabad, the Fiat car project will come up at Ranjangaon.
Munde who was accompanied by state Chief Secretary P Subramaniam, said that he and his officials from the state energy department held preliminary discussions with the French state-owned EDF organisation and British Trade and Industry Department for development of various power related projects and transmission and distribution of electricity more efficiently in the state.
In Britain, Munde, along with his energy secretary Ashok Basak, discussed various issues related to distribution and transmission of power and offered them a proposal to work together with the Maharashtra State Electricity Board in this direction. The British officials showed their interest and intend to visit Maharashtra in December to have further talks with MSEB officials. At present, the British company is engaged in privatisation of power transmission and distribution system in Orissa through a multilateral-funded joint venture company.
In France, the state-owned EDF company has offered their expertise in setting up hydroelectric power projects at various potential sites identified by the state government. The state government has plan to set up about 2000 mw hydel power projects. Similarly, discussions were held to improve the plant load factor of existing thermal power plants in the state from the current average of 68 per cent.
Howsoever, the final shape of the discussions with the French officials would take place in January when the French prime minister would be coming to India as the chief guest for the Republic Day parade in New Delhi.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Manohar Joshi has urged Prime Minister I K Gujral to extend the state government's invitation to the French premier to visit the state for a day.
The delegation also visited the Fiat plant at Necci Compressori, near Milan, in Italy where the Indian company Videocon has a 50-50 joint venture with Italian company Beccaria. The new plant will manufacture state of the art compressors used in the white goods industry. A plant is coming up in Maharashtra in the Videocon's factory near Aurangabad.
The delegation also had discussions with the chairman and managing director and senior management team of Carraro at Padova, near Venice. Carraros have joined with Escorts Limited to manufacture transmission equipments and axles of tractors. The total investment in the projects coming up at Ranjangaon in the first phase is estimated at Rs 3.5 billion.
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