Issue :   
Happy Dussehra and Diwali to all Readers.          November 2019 Edition of Power Politics is updated.
Issue:June' 2019


Will investment boom amidst
economic gloom?

Rakesh Lohumi from Shimla

The discouraging investment climate within the country and the global headwinds indicating a s l o w d o w n notwithstanding, the Himachal government is organising a “Global Investors' Meet 2019” at Dharamshala on November 7and 8 to showcase the state as a preferred destinations for entrepreneurs in India.

It is a well-conceived event and a good initiative to boost economic growth in the hill state but it may not yield the desired results in the current dismal economic scenario when industries are being forced to shut down production due to lack of demand. Even otherwise, the target of attracting an investment of Rs 85,000 crore through the event is too ambitious. The investment climate is not conducive for attracting entrepreneurs and the government seems to be aware of the situation. It has made it a prestige issue and it has been working overtime for the past almost one year to make its flagship event a success.

Chief Minister Jairam Thakur, who has been spearheading the government’s campaign, held road shows not only within the country but also abroad to invite entrepreneurs for the meet. Besides Hyderabad, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Ahamdabadand Chandigarh he also led roadshows in United Arab Emirates, Germany and Netherland.It is for the first time that an event is being organised to attract investment on such a grand scale.

Sparing no efforts for creating positive vibes for the big event, the government organised a Mini Conclave of Global Investor’s at Shimla last month. The Chief Minster claimed that the conclave evoked a good response from the investors mainly and as many as 93 MoU's were signed for projects involving an investment worth Rs. 4775 crorein Tourism, Housing, Education, Food Processing, Health and IT sectors.He also claimed that so far MoU’s for projects worth Rs 45,000 crore had been signed.

However,the opposition is not impressed and termed the entire exercise as a ploy to divert attention from the lacklustre performance of the government and indifferent governance over the past 21 months of BJP rule.

Mukesh Agnihotri Congress Legislative Party Leader Mukesh Agnihotri said any effort of the government to attract investment to boost development is good for the state but Global Investor Meet 2019 appears to be an “extravagant exercise” that is not likely to yield any concrete results. It could be best described as a “Global MoU Signing Festival” rather than a serious investors’ meet to attract investment. “Signing MoUs can help create media headlines but it does not actually bring investment as has been the experience in other states where not even 25 per cent of the MoUs have been implemented during period of economic boom”, he remarked taking a jibe a Chief Minister Jairam Thakur.
He expressed apprehension that it might well turn out to be another edition of “Himachal on Sale” the way government was easing all norms in a vague manner and without any concern for environment and bulldozing rights of people.The entire focus was on publicity and no concern about the rules, regulations, environment and rights of the people which raised serious doubts about the investor meet. He reminded the government of the aborted Himalayan Ski Village Project for which could not be implemented due to opposition from local people. It seems that it had not learnt any lesson and waived the provisions for NoC from panchayats and mandatory permissions from TCP Department which effectively meant that there would be no public consultations. A free for all like situation where any influential person could set up any project anywhere, making a mockery of mandatory provisions of law.

The Congress has even demanded a “white paper” on the incentives, concessions and relaxations announced for various sectors and specific industries before the investors meet. The by-election to the Dharamsala Vidhan Sabha seat has lent a political overtones to the Global Investor Meet as it is being held in Dharsmshala. The senior leaders of both the BJP and the Congress are firing verbal salvos on each other to gain electoral mileage.
The political fireworks apart, environment is a big issue in the ecological fragile hills state and the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and the State High Court have passed several orders castigating the government for its failure to check illegal construction, deforestation and pollution of rivers and other water sources due to unscientific disposal of waste. The hills, particularly area like Shimla, Manalai, Dharamshala and Kasauli, have been burdened beyond their carrying capacity due to haphazard and excessive construction activity. The NGT had imposed restriction on new constructions in Shimla and surrounding areas and capped the number of vehicles on Rohtang pass as these areas have been burdened beyond their carrying capacity. In such a situation relaxing land and building laws could lead to haphazard industrialisation in the state already under strain due to unsustainable urbanisation.

The government has engaged professional agencies, including Confederation of Indian Industry as National Partner, Ernst and Young LLP as Knowledge Partner, Square Communication Ltd. as Media Partner and Integrated Conference and Event Management (ICE) as Event Partner.These agencies are taking care of various components of the meet right from planning and designing to implementation.As many as nine committees have been set up for organising the meet.

The government has engaged professional agencies. These agencies are taking care of various components of the meet.

Various incentives have been announce and some regulations have been eased to facilitate prompt clearances of projects and land bank has been created to ensure that entrepreneurs do not face hurdles in locating and acquiring land. A new industrial policy has been announced, under which “Anchor Enterprise”, industrial unit with the Fixed Capital Investment of over Rs. 200 crore and employing more than 200 Bonafide Himachalis on regular basis, will be eligible for special concessions.

The event will showcase the potential of Himachal Pradesh for investment in various sectors, such as Agri-Business, Food Processing & Post Harvest Technology: Tourism, Hospitality & Civil Aviation; Wellness, Healthcare and Ayush (Indian system of Medicines); Hydro & Renewable Energy; Manufacturing & Pharmaceuticals; Real Estate, Urban Development, ITES & Electronics; Education and Skill Development.

The objective is to boost economic growth, generate employment opportunities, encourage entrepreneurship and promote 'Make in Himachal'.