The massive investment drive launched by the Kerala government by conducting the mega Global Investor Meet has fetched investments worth nearly Rs 26,000 crore (Rs 260 billion).
Chief Minister A K Antony said the new investment proposals would change the face of the industry-starved state.
Riding on a wave of the huge success that the two-day Global Investor Meet brought, Antony told reporters on Monday that he would make Kerala an economic powerhouse.
In the next 10 years, Kerala will be India's number one state in various fields like information technology, industry, education and healthcare, the chief minister said.
Antony said that it is for the first time that any state in India has attracted such a huge investment of Rs 26,000 crore in a short span of time.
The perception that Kerala is not the ideal state for investment has changed. Now we are happy that investors are queuing up to invest in the state with big projects, the chief minister said.
Some of the major projects for which the state government signed memorandums of understanding with various companies during the Global Investor Meet include a private airport at Kannur promoted by the Leela Group, an amusement park and a ropeway at Thiruvananthapuram, a passenger shipping service from Dubai and Muscat to Kerala, an IT City in Kochi and a clutch of projects from the IT majors led by Microsoft, Infosys Technologies and the NeST Group.
Antony said some of the major projects which will be finalised soon are the mega express highway and the Sky Bus plan for Kochi.
A number of domestic and foreign companies have expressed keen interest for the Express Highway and the Sky Bus projects. These two will be the biggest ever infrastructure projects the government of Kerala is keen to execute as early as possible, the chief minister pointed out.
He said the proposed Rs 7,000 crore (Rs 70 billion), 504 kilometer Express Highway from Kasargod to Trivandrum and the Rs 1,000 crore (Rs 10 billion) Sky Bus projects have not been accounted in the Rs 26,000 crore investments proposals. I am certain that in the next few years, Kerala will be able to attract investment worth Rs 50,000 crore (Rs 500 billion), the chief minister said.
Antony said the Global Investor Meet was an eye-opener.
Till now the perception was that Keralites who are doing wonderful business outside the state are not interested in setting up projects in the state. But now the Kerala businessmen doing business outside the state and country are ready to come back to the state. We are thankful to them, the chief minister said.
Kerala is now open for business. Welcome to a new, resurgent Kerala, Antony declared.
The chief minister, who heads the Congress-led United Democratic Front government, said that the biggest benefit from the investor meet was that he could bring the opposition leaders to a political consensus on most investment projects.
Kerala is the only state in India where the ruling party and the opposition parties have decided to join hands to promote the state as the ideal investment destination. We are happy that our policy of consensus has proved to be a grand success, he said.
Political circles in Kerala pointed out that one of the major gainer out of the global investor meet is Antony himself who wants to lead the state the way Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu did for his state.
Antony has done very well. Let us see if he will keep up the momentum of driving the investment into the state. If he does, he will win the next elections easily in 2006, a senior Congress politician pointed out.
Many believe Antony is indebted to Kerala's leader of the Opposition V S Achuthanandan for building up a hype and making the investor meet a huge success.
It was Achuthanandan who has been arguing for continuity in policies regarding investment and development regardless of political changes.
The Oleader said he would wait for a few months to assess whether Antony's investment drive is going on in the right direction.
We are not against attracting investment into Kerala. But what we need the chief minister to do is that he should ensure that all investments that pour into Kerala should be genuine and transparent, Achuthanandan told rediff.com.The Global Investor Meet 2003