Industry Needs A New Champion
The recent “Investors Meet” event managed by the Goa Chamber of Commerce on the lines of a “Mela” has raised significant issues for the industry. A week before, the Verna Industries Association (VIA) members met Power Minister Milind Naik and Industries Minister Mahadev Naik in Verna to appraise them of the difficulties faced by existing industries based in Verna. The situation is the same for most industries based in other industrial estates, especially those wanting to expand either with a new facility of within the same premises.
Most vacant land, after the mess created by former Chairman Babu Kavlekar in GIDC, is in the hands of speculators. Brokers created havoc. The current Government has it hands full, unraveling the mess. For now, all expansions necessarily are under hold till a new policy is presented and illegally held land freed. The work on a new and relevant policy is underway.
The meeting with the Ministers, highlighted the fact that many industries are waiting for a power connection either new or for enhancement. Transformers are in short supply and all are running from pillar to post for power.
There is a huge, village - industrial estate, conflict brewing due to the shortage or rather inadequate availability of treated water. To overcome this shortage, bore wells became a solution of choice, further escalating the conflict. For Verna the solution is in the pipeline. The Government will lay a raw water pipeline to Verna and supply the same to industries who can use if for gardening or treat it and use it for production. This will take a huge burden off the supply of treated water.
One would imagine that a responsible industry organisation would work to find solutions to the problem and not add, as was attempted with the “Investor Meet”. The Mela, was mainly a photo- op as not one investor had any serious plans to show. However, it was a good business opportunity for consultants to make contacts.
An entertainment company , announced that they were looking for 70 acres of land and also mentioned they needed engineers for their water park. How many engineers per acre are we talking about in a water park? If someone has 70 acres where would he go? A more damming statement mentioned that Goa is being promoted as a Tier III city to attract IT firms. See the real estate connection, more brokerage?
The Goa State Industries Association (GSIA) got together all the Industrial Estate Associations under its banner and forced the Government to take notice of the scams in GIDC and has now paved the way for a brighter future. A step fraught with danger as the powers that be are known to retaliate. But they stood their ground and the industry benefited.
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) usually does not involve itself with local issues. They too had a brain storming meet in Mumbai with the Chief Minister to come up with ideas and proposals which, if implemented now, would make Goa an investment destination within the next three to five years.
Manufacturing therefore needs a new champion to raise its issues collectively and in one voice. A champion dedicated to the industry which has it unique needs and is a major source of employment.
One possibility is that the GSIA expands its role to include large industries. This can be easily done , given the vast experience and excellent track record GSIA has for taking up industry issues. However they may not be willing to dilute their mandate which focuses on MSME.
The second option is VIA should take the lead and become the new Champion. The Verna Industrial Estate has the highest investment in the State. It makes the highest tax and non tax contributions to the State and is the highest employer in the State. The third option is a Federation of Industrial Estate Associations, this will insure undiluted focus on both industrial estates as well as manufacturing. It will also focus on all estates equally across the State.
One way or another, a decision has to be taken so that the interests of manufacturing industries are not short changed at the altar of brokers. It is important that industry acts quickly to protect its interests in the long term.
Over to the powers that be in the options mentioned above. Who will be the new industry champion ? My vote is for a Federation.