Dream projects worth crores fail to take off

More than 60 per cent of the staggering 1,015 investment proposals the State Investment Promotion Board (SIPB) approved since 2006 have been found in various stages of stagnation.

Sources in the department told The Telegraph that the implementation of 782 approved projects was found either to be in nascent stages or about to start or not yet started or the interest to set them seemed to have fizzled out. The projects entailed investments exceeding Rs 3 lakh crore.

Earlier this month, an SIPB meeting approved the setting up of 28 sugar mills in the state at a proposed investment of Rs 6,500 crore.

"We are mulling ways to ensure that projects approved by SIPB come up. But it would take sometime before a proper way or policy is devised. At present, the state of actual investments after comparing the proposed and actual figures is not very encouraging," a department official said.

The official revealed that of 1,015 approved projects, there are 90 operational units, while implementation of 143 others is in progress. Official figures put the actual investment in the state from implementation of approved projects at Rs 5,021 crore. "This is a sad number when the proposed investments on paper exceeds Rs 3 lakh crore. There are many approved projects, which did not take off. The government did not take cue earlier. Now, it seems too late," an industrialist told The Telegraph on condition of anonymity.

At present, 10 sugar mills, set up at Rs 802 crore, operate in the state. Expansion plans of the 10 sugar mills entailed further investment of Rs 956 crore but the actual was merely Rs 525 crore. Similarly, the actual against a proposal to set up three ethanol plants at Rs 151 crore was a dismal Rs 55 crore.

The SIPB approved the setting up of 533 food processing plants at an investment of Rs 5,942 crore. The actual investment, however, rests at Rs 762 crore. Against 54 units worth Rs 11,345 crore approved in connection with steel processing and cement industries, the actual investment was Rs 437 crore. For setting up 22 technical institutions, including medical colleges and hospitals, proposed investment was Rs 626 crore, while the actual invested was a paltry Rs 14 crore. A total of 91 power-related projects worth Rs 2,42,763 crore received a thumbs up, while the real investment was Rs 2,185 crore.

Earlier, the state government had talked about measures to ensure that SIPB projects turn into reality.

"First, the government had thought of making the process of SIPB approvals stringent and not to give approvals easily. The same is still being followed and the projects are first scanned before being approved. The department is now drawing up a draft policy under which the unit holders will be given a deadline of six months after an SIPB approval to show some work on the ground. They have to get the land for the project within the time-frame," another official told The Telegraph.

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