Government of Odisha in line with ‘Make in India’ programme has organized “Make in Odisha” Conclave, a three days programme starting from 30th November 2016 at Bhubaneswar. It is the most welcome event to place Odisha at its rightful place in the country’s Industrial Map.
It is surprising that, since independence of India in 1947, inspite of the availability of large amounts of various natural resources, the state has not been able to develop different resource based industries to give a better socio – economic life to the people of Odisha. Odisha is considered to be the store house of most of the minerals of the country. The state has got 27% coal, 26% iron ores, 65% bauxite, 31.7% manganese ore, 98.3% chromite, 95.1% nickel and cobalt ore, 20.7% of ilmentite and 76.67% graphite out of the total deposits of the respective minerals in India in addition to small reserves of many other nonferrous minerals.
Odisha is not only the mineral rich state of India but also it has vast areas of fertile agricultural lands, dense forests, about 480 Kilometers of coastal line with three ports at Paradeep, Dhamara and Gopalpur and large number of water bodies including many rivers and the unique brackish water lagoon, the Chilika Lake. With all these minerals, forests, water, marine and land resources, Odisha should have been the leading state of India for producing large amounts of energy as well as various types of metals and alloys including steel, aluminium, ferro-alloys and other valuable metals like nickel, vanadium, titanium, zirconium etc. Based on various agricultural produces it would have been possible to develop the agro industries in a big way to boost the rural economy. With the development of various large, medium and small industries, the technical service sector could have provided employment opportunities to a large section of skilled and semiskilled youths of the state.
Odisha with its favourable geographical location with about 300 sunny days in a year, long coastal line and various hilly regions, has the potential for producing a large amount of renewable energy resources like solar and wind energy. Similarly utilizing the forest and agricultural wastes, the state could have been a major producer of biogas. But, when most of the other states of India are going ahead at a fast rate for developing these renewable and clean energy resources, Odisha is very much lagging behind. In the state, practically insignificant facilities have been developed to produce solar, wind and biogas energy inspite of severe scarcity of electricity particularly for most of the rural people.
In addition to various natural resources, Odisha has got a large number of historical, religious and scenic tourist spots including the temple of Jagannath at Puri, The Sun temple at Konark, the Rajarani temple at Bhubaneswar, the beautiful sea beach of Puri and Gopalpur, the Chilika Lake and the Similipal National Park at Mayurbhanj. But, due to improper maintenance of these tourist spots and mismanagement, much less numbers of visitors come to Odisha compared to many other states of India.
Thus, inspite of all the resources available in plenty in the state of Odisha, none of the industries particularly the mineral based metallurgical and energy industries, the agro based industries, production of clean renewable energy from sun, wind and biomas and also the tourism industry have not come up to any satisfactory level. In the past, some of bitter experiences of the investors and entrepreneurs for setting up industries may be cited. The dearth of raw materials like iron ore and coal has forced most of the sponge iron industries to closed down or run with much below their capacities. The proposed steel plants by Mittal and Posco which were thought to enrich the socio economic condition of the state, have been scraped because of huddles in getting land, the raw materials etc. Similarly, due to dearth of bauxite, the Vedant Alumina plant at Lanjigad has been almost closed down.
Again small and medium scale industries like the agro industries and renewable energy production units which comparatively need very little investment, could have been developed by giving a lot of employment opportunities particularly to the rural people of Odisha. It is disgraceful that, inspite of so much rich resources, today Odisha occupies 11th rank in the country in terms of ease of doing business.
All these facts indicate that, inspite of rich resources available in Odisha, because of wrong planning and inefficient management system including lack of coordination amongst various Government Departments, the industries in different sectors have not come up to any satisfactory level. Because of rich resources of Odisha, the investors would certainly come up to set up various industries. However, the State Government based on its past experiences, should take necessary steps to plan and implement various industrial projects in time.
In this programme for industrialization of Odisha the following suggestions may be taken in to consideration by the state government.
1) The planning of projects in various sectors should to done very carefully keeping in view the availability of required raw materials, the locations, infrastructures, impact on environment, best available technology, skilled manpower, source of finance, market etc.
2) Starting from the planning, implementation and smooth functioning of the plant, the technical representatives of the government should be associated with the projects both in public and private sectors to monitor the progress.
3) In order to provide more job opportunities to the family members of the farmers, the agro industries should be developed in a big way providing various incentives and training.
4) Ancillary units of the major industries should be developed on priority basis to generate more employment opportunities for the skilled and semiskilled youths of the state.
5) High priorities should also be given to harness clean, renewable energy from sun, wind, small hydro power and biomass. The mining, metallurgical and chemical industries should develop the clean energy and utilize these in their industries as it is the trend in many developed countries.
6) State Government should extend the required facilities to existing sick industries like sponge iron plants to increase production and providing employment opportunities.
7) There are enough institutions in the state to develop skills in different disciplines. The state government should coordinate and stream line these with a mechanism for placement of the trained youths.
8) As the investment in different agro based and ancillary industries is comparatively not very much, the local investors should be encouraged to set up these. This in a short period can generate a lot of employment opportunities for young people of the state.
9) Necessary steps should be taken to keep the environment clean in the industrial region with adequate socio economic benefits to the displaced people through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programmes which are not attended properly in many cases.
The ‘Make in Odisha’ Conclave is over. Keeping in view the vast resources available in the state, the investors have expressed their willingness to set up various industries worth about two lakhs crores of rupees. Now, the ball is in Odisha Government’s court. The Government should extend various required facilities to expedite in setting up the industries. Let not the highly embrassing situations as happened in the past with Mittal, Posco and Vedant are repeated. We, the people of Odisha hope very much that, our resources rich state should be in the prominent place in industrial map of India providing a better socio economic life to its people.
(Former Director General, Council of Scientific & Industrial Research, India)