Road to investment revolution
Authorities must address the state capital's saturated industrial space, high land price and poor infrastructure issues to sustain its growth.
Oct 28, 2012
Source : The Times of India


BHUBANESWAR: The city's fast expanding real estate, education and IT sectors are often cited as shining examples of Bhubaneswar emerging as a preferred investment destination. However, authorities must address the state capital's saturated industrial space, high land price and poor infrastructure issues to sustain its growth, feel industry insiders.
Besides Infocity I and II for the software industry, the city has two industrial estates of Mancheswar and Rasulgarh. "The Industrial areas are over exploited. The government should create new industrial corridors within 30 to 40 km radius of the city so that more industries can come up outside the living core area," said Utkal Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Ramesh Mahapatra. Making available industrial area outside the city will reduce land cost for the entrepreneurs, which is a big part of the investment here, he said.
An acre of land costs anything between Rs 8 crore and Rs 10 crore in the city. "Land is a major problem. To overcome the shortage the government should create infrastructure in virgin localities away from the city and develop land parcels for industries and also for residential purposes," said Jayant K Parida, a professor of commerce in Utkal University. Consistency and transparency in policies should be in place for continued growth of the city to boost investors' confidence. Too many policies are changed too frequently, he pointed out.
Though the government is vying for a single window clearance, investors still have to do lots of running around. For example, in case of a real estate project, one has to approach at least five agencies including Bhubaneswar Development Authority, Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation, fire department, public health engineering department, and environment department for clearance. "There is no time period fixed for any agency for action. As a result, projects have to wait for six months to over a year to get all the approvals in place. The processes should be simpler and time-bound, said D S Tripathy, state president of Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India.
Sources said though the city boasts of a vibrant IT sector, several big ticket investments promised in IT of late have not been materializing. K Raheja Corporation had signed a deal with the state government to establish an IT park under 'Mindspace' brand on over 25 acres of land in Mancheswar industrial estate area in 2008. Four years later, the non-starter project worth Rs 1000 crore has been 'almost' shelved, sources said.
"I can't comment on any specific case. However, the infrastructure in industrial estates is very poor to attract investments. The roads are non-commutable," said Debu Patnaik, convener of Invest Bhubaneswar, a forum working to attract investors to the city. The government should also create incubation centres to encourage new ventures to grow. This would help local entrepreneurs, he added.
Along with the service industry, government should encourage creation of more service apartments and recreation facilities. Besides, the government should expedite the process for improving international air connectivity, Patnaik said.
The city boasts of over 50 engineering colleges and 20 management colleges. The professional colleges, however, complain of lack of government support to sustain the sector. "Every year thousands of engineering seats are lying vacant because of faulty government policies. Students from other states are willing to study here but the government has put a cap of admitting a maximum of eight per cent non-Odia students. Many institutions will be forced to close down if the present trend continues," said Binod Dash, secretary of Odisha Private Engineering Colleges Association. 

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