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Nitish's radical steps to woo investors

By Subhashis Mittra in New Delhi
February 09, 2006 21:46 IST
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Determined to erase the image of Bihar as a state synonymous with lack of development, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday said radical steps are being taken to woo investors and boost urban infrastructure.

"A Bill is being drafted for introduction in the forthcoming Budget session of the state assembly to encourage investment promotion and urban infrastructure development," he told PTI in an interview.

The measure comes close on the heels of Kumar making a strong case for Bihar at a recent meeting of NRIs at Hyderabad where he went all out to woo prospective investors.

Asked about the response from investors, he said a number of them had shown keen interest in different sectors and 'we are processing their documents'.

To a question, he said investors had shown interest in setting up hospitals, multiplexes and sugar industries.

Kumar said Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar will visit Patna on February 13 when issues relating to revival of sick sugarcane units in Bihar will be discussed.

"We intend to expand the activities of existing sugarcane factories in the state and take effective measures to revive the 15 closed units besides encouraging setting up of new ones," he said, adding that a high-level committee constituted by him to go into the problems of sugarcane industry was likely to submit its report to him shortly.

Kumar, who is in the capital in connection with his meeting with the Planning Commission on Saturday, said he will pitch for a quantum jump in the allocation.

Declining to go into details ahead of his meeting with Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, he said while last year's size was an increase of ten per cent over the previous year, "This time I will try my best for a higher figure."

While thanking the UPA government for selecting 23 backward districts for the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, the chief minister said he will introduce a similar programme in the remaining 15 districts from the state government's resources.

He said since the Centre was planning to wind up the National Labour Development Scheme, it should make alternative arrangements for the state to enable completion of the programmes that have been already launched.

Under the central scheme, Bihar was promised Rs 5,000 crores spread over five years. While Rs 2,000 crore has been approved, the rest should be provided to the state through some alternative means, he said.

In a bid to tone up rural health, the chief minister held discussions here with top officials of WHO and UNICEF where Union Health Secretary P K Hota was also present.

Pulse polio and other immunisation drives in the state came up for review at the meeting where it was decided that all children should be covered in a time bound manner.

A high-level team of the health ministry is likely to visit Bihar next week to review progress of various health schemes in the state, he added.

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Subhashis Mittra in New Delhi
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