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With Vibrant Gujarat scheduled next year, the government is going all guns blazing to make this summit one of the mega events of the country. INFRASTRUCTURE TODAY caught up with Dr Jagdip Narayan Singh, Chief Secretary, Government of Gujarat at his office in Gandhinagar, where he told RAHUL KAMAT about why Vibrant Gujarat will be the Davos of East.
Vibrant Gujarat is due next year. What are the big-ticket projects that the government is likely to showcase during this global conclave?
One of the big-ticket projects we are showcasing is the bullet train. Apart from its speedy movement from Mumbai to Ahmedabad, this project is expected to give a spin-off to various types of technological innovations across the state. That apart, the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) is implementing an expressway from Delhi to Mumbai, passing largely through Ahmedabad. We already have an expressway between Ahmedabad and Vadodara, however, the same will be extended up to Mumbai.
Considering the state has a maximum goods movement because of industrialisation, the state will be a major beneficiary due to the Delhi-Mumbai Freight Corridor. And to support the growing industrial movement, we have planned India's first greenfield industrial smart city, Dholera. In fact, the project will attract maximum investment, considering our preparation in creating infrastructure such as connecting roads, airports, energy, water and other utilities. In north Gujarat, Suzuki has already set up a massive plant. This would be the company's, probably the biggest in the world, single location plant that will be manufacturing cars. In addition, Suzuki-Toyota have setup the biggest battery plant and we are expecting that the same plant will manufacture electrical vehicles too. That said, we are assessing a few proposals submitted by a few companies for setting up EV manufacturing unit.
How Dholera is proving to be a brand ambassador for Vibrant Gujarat?
The Dholera Special Investment Region (DSIR) is one such industrial city, 100 km south of Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Dholera Industrial City Development (DICDL), a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) and a partnership between the Government of Gujarat and the Government of India is developing India's largest greenfield smart industrial township. DICDL is investing Rs 30 billon in trunk infrastructure for an area of 22.54 sq km (2,254 HA). The trunk infrastructure is state-of- the-art, complete with SCADA and ICT enabled. All the government functions can be accessed through an E-Gov portal, while data analytics in the form of block chain and big data will be implemented to ensure that the information is available to the businesses and citizens to enhance cost effectiveness and decision making. The city has been awarded platinum rating by the Indian Green Building Council, certifying that it's the most sustainable city in the world. Due to its smart infrastructure, the life cycle costs for businesses will be much lower than other cities and this in itself is a big draw for businesses. Besides attracting businesses, Dholera also aspires to be the most liveable city in India. Dholera will be a leading example of how mega initiatives in smart cities will transform India and increase the manufacturing GDP.
In addition, Dholera is building an ultra-mega solar park of 5,000 MW capacity, with the first phase of 1,000 MW tender already being out on September 2018.
Investments close to Rs 250 billion are expected for this ultra-solar park. Dholera is also building a greenfield airport at a cost of Rs 20 billion, a six-lane access controlled expressway between Ahmedabad and Dholera and a Metro Rapid Transit System (MRTS) between Ahmedabad and Dholera which will reduce the commute between the two cities to less than an hour. Such mega connectivity and city building projects are bound to transform the region into a vibrant commercial corridor and urban area.
Do you think that these projects and Vibrant Gujarat will rest the perception created by opposition parties over the lack of investment in the country?
I cannot comment on what opposition parties are saying. Let me give you some figures. Gujarat's has contributed 22 per cent in India's overall export figures, up by 3 per cent from 19 per cent in 2016-17. That said, if any company wants to invest in India, they are probably looking at a state where large land parcel is available. One of the states to look for is Gujarat because it is the only state where large land parcel is easily available and we have set examples to showcase that. Apart from land parcel, what motivates investors to invest in Gujarat is the last mile connectivity.
Over a period of time, the success of Vibrant Gujarat was measured on a number of MoUs been signed. Are you actually making this summit as Davos of East?
I must appreciate that you have not asked the question brutally as compared to others. In case of MoUs signed, around 70-75 per cent of all the MoUs are getting converted into reality. In fact, during Vibrant Gujarat 2019, we are setting up a separate pavilion where we will list all the MoUs signed from 2003, along with all the necessary details that includes the number of MoUs initiated, completed and are under implementation.
Coming back to the Davos of East issue, along with the investment potential, we are trying to develop what trade and commerce potential Gujarat as a state can showcase. Considering we are strong in export for sectors like ceramics, interior goods, pharmaceutical, chemicals, drugs, man-made fabrics, cotton and yarn, etc., we will be conducting a buyer-seller meet at the summit.
What is the last five year employment generation in the state?
Gujarat is one of the states with the least number of unemployment. This is the government labour bureau figures which comes out every quarter. Maximum numbers of employment from the employment exchange is given by Gujarat. This year, we are targeting to train around 0.1 million apprentice out of 0.25 million across the country. We have set aside a huge budget to spend and have requested the government to release some funds. Last year, the state had employed 30,000 apprentice and we are expecting to take it 0.1 million this year.
That apart, we are giving incentives to the employment-oriented industries particularly. We are also giving higher incentives to those who are generating employment in the garment industry. At present, the diamond cutting industry is the biggest employer. The service sector has started contributing up in a significant way.
Last year, the state had employed 30,000 apprentice and is expecting to take it 0.1 million this year.
- RAHUL KAMAT