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Gujarat not an investment hotspot, insists Congress

Last updated on: January 5, 2011 10:43 IST

Gujarat not an investment hotspot, insists Congress

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Gujarat, with its all-inclusive, sustainable and rapid growth, is emerging as a globally preferred place to live and to do business in," says Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat.

According to the Gujarat government, the 'Vibrant Gujarat Summits', held biennially since 2003, have been a major success, attracting investment proposals worth over $370 billion.

However, Modi's claims of Gujarat as an attractive investment have now been questioned by the Congress party.

The Leader of the Opposition in the Gujarat Assembly, Shaktisinh Gohil, has slammed Modi's claim of Gujarat being an investment hotspot.

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Image: Narendra Modi, Chief Minister, Gujarat.

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Just as Gujarat gets ready to unfurl the 'biggest and best' of the 'Vibrant Gujarat' summits on January 12, the Congress party has said a joint legislative committee should be formed to probe into Vibrant Gujarat-related 'irregularities'.

A statement from Shaktisinh Gohil said, "The status report of all memoranda of understanding signed during the last summit should be made public before Vibrant Gujarat 2011 is held."

Accusing the Gujarat government of making false claims, Gohil said, "While home-grown small and medium businesses and industrialists are facing a host of problems, a selected coterie of big industrialists is being blatantly favoured in the name of 'Vibrant Gujarat'. The rate of success of big industrialists in Vibrant Gujarat is only 5 to 10 per cent."

Property worth billions has been given to some selected industrialists, Shaktisinh Gohil alleged.

Pointing out that there was no public auction or transparency, while giving land to big industrialists, no sops have been offered to the small and medium industry, he charged.

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Image: Vibrant Gujarat Summit to begin on Jan 12.

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"In the last three years, favoured industrialists have been given 11,15,72,319.57 sq mt of land at throwaway prices. But nothing has been given to landless farmers. On the other hand, industrialists are minting money selling the land," Gohil added.

Large projects make noise and walk away with big favours but their realisation rate is dismal, said Gohil.

Big project proposals to the tune of Rs 12.25 lakh crore (Rs 12.25 trillion) were announced during the 2009 Vibrant Gujarat summit, but the actual investment was only Rs 62,522.27 crore (Rs 625.22 billion), said the Congress leader.

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Image: A stacker prepares to stack a container at Thar Dry Port in Sanand in Gujarat.
Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuters.
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The memoranda of understanding signed during Vibrant Gujarat remain on paper only.

There is negligible investment from these MoUs, claims Gohil.

Lamenting the 'fall of Gujarat' from being the number one in investment in 1992, Gohil said it is now lagging behind many states.

There are innumerable instances when MoUs of huge amounts have been signed, but no investment has come into Gujarat, Gohil claimed.

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Image: An employee works inside a textile mill in Jhagadia village of Gujarat.
Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuters.
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Hindustan Construction Company had signed a Rs 40,000-crore (Rs 400 billion) memorandum of understanding for a water city near Dholera in Gujarat.

The company has not even visited the site, Gohil's statement said.

Similarly, Universal Success Enterprise signed a memorandum of understanding of Rs 1 lakh crore (Rs 1 trillion) for setting up a township, a power plant of 1,0000 MW and a port. But nothing is known about its progress, Gohil said.

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Image: A villager looks at decorated camels of Border Security Force (BSF) during the Rann camel safari.
Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuters.
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Gohil further said that the Bhatia Group had signed an MoU of Rs 30,000 crore (Rs 300 billion) for setting up a nano city, but nothing has moved in this case either.

It was decided to set up vital innovation city near Valsad at a cost of Rs 11,500 crore (Rs 115 billion).

It was declared that it will become the hub for making auto parts and a Korean company would join the project. Gohil said that it now learnt that the project had been dropped.

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Image: Pillars of the cargo port are checked as trucks wait to load coal at Dahej.
Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuters.
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Alleging that the claims made by the Gujarat government are baseless, Gohil said the government declares a project successful if there is an investment of Rs 5 lakh (Rs 500,000) in a project of Rs 5,000 crore (Rs 50 billion).

Even if the state had got 10 per cent of the promised investment, it would have wiped off unemployment from Gujarat, the Congress leader claimed.

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Image: Employees of the state government raise their hands during a protest rally in Ahmedabad.
Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuters.
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Blaming the Narendra Modi government in Gujarat for misleading people with false figures, Gohil said there is a steep rise in the number of educated people who are unemployed in the state.

Gujarat's unemployment figure has risen to 2,22,000 in 2008, from 55,000 unemployed in 1990, Gohil said.

During this period, the number of unemployed engineers has increased from 4,085 to over 10,000. The number of educated unemployed has increased by 250,000, Gohil further claimed.

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Image: Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata (L) with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
Photographs: Reuters.
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Quoting the question-answer session in the Gujarat state Assembly, Shaktisinh Gohil said that the government had said that out of the 8,888 projects signed only 737 were commissioned.

Gohil slammed the government for spending crores (millions) of rupees for undue publicity.

During Vibrant Gujarat 2009, the government spent Rs 691 crore (Rs 6.91 billion) on hoardings, besides crores on other publicity events, Gohil said.

"The government should have given this money to small and medium businesses. It is sad that the information department in Gujarat has over 700 staffers but still private public relations agencies and planners are given huge margins and work for the event," Gohil said.

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Image: Employees assemble a coach inside private railway equipment production unit of Bombardier at Savli.
Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuters.
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Many states who do not conduct such events get more investment than Gujarat, the Congress charged.

"Three industrialists are given away 5,000 hectares of land in the last three years. The Congress is not against development of Gujarat, but it should not be limited to a handful of industrialists. Thousands of small and medium business should benefit from it," the Congress leader said.

"The government had made big announcements of Rs 305 crore (Rs 3.05 billion) from DLF IT SEZ in Gandhinagar. In reality, the project was denotified in June 2, 2009 and nothing is coming to the state," Gohil said.

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Image: Small industries hit.
Photographs: Reuters.
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"Gujarat faces a mounting debt crisis. Had the state been progressing as announced, the debt of the state should have decreased. From a negligible debt when Narendra Modi government took over, the government now faces a huge debt of Rs 1,17,000 crore (Rs 1170 billion)," Gohil said.

Even the Comptroller and Auditor General took serious note of the rising debt of Gujarat, he said.

Instead of providing balanced development of Gujarat, the investors' meet is further widening the rich-poor divide, he claimed.

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Image: Gujarat, an investment hotspot.

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Some are creating wealth in abundance while there is no end to middle class people's woes, Gohil said.

It has led to a situation where a person living in Ahmedabad or any other city cannot even think of buying a house.

Gohil cited some more examples of how farmers and the common man are suffering. "The government is not worried about all this," Gohil claimed.

"If the government still thinks that Vibrant Gujarat summits are free of corruption and they have brought all round development of Gujarat, then it should accept Congress demand for a probe," Gohil said.


Image: Women fill buckets with drinking water that is leaking from a broken pipeline at Dharji village.
Photographs: Amit Dave/Reuters.
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