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Expanding Goa’s industrial base

A robust industrial policy and plans to open six new estates devoted to manufacturing means Goa is on the threshold of an industrial expansion. However, speculation over vacant plots in industrial estates and difficulties in freeing large tracts of land locked in SEZs continue to keep the government occupied, writes Michael Fisher

Goa has a splendid economic growth, one of the highest per capita income indexes, a vibrant service sector, and has recently announced a well-tailored industrial policy with incentive centric approach to attract investments, but this has not yet convinced industrialists who are fuming and fretting.

Instead of setting up new industrial estates in Betul, Cuncolim, Shiroda, Panchwadi, Quittol and Latambarcem in Bicholim, first unlock the frozen SEZ land, point out existing industrialists from Madkaim and Kundaim industrial estates. “We have a very powerful government which can free this land for a single big industry which can use local ancillary units,” they lament.

“Our machines are thirsting for water and quality power,” says Verna Industries Association (VIA) president Prashant Shinde, adding, “This are the main requirements to keep our machines running.”

In the past there were no allotment policies and entrepreneurs close to politicians would have favour, now that has changed so IDC should give an equal opportunity to people who are on the waiting list for years. Plots lying vacant for more than six months after allotment should be bought back to the GIDC fold, opine stakeholders.

Former GCCI president and industrialist Nitin Kunkolienkar says the new policy will open the floodgates for investors to the new industrial estates which the government is planning. It will build pressure on the politicians as well as bureaucrats that they have to be on the forward path.

“It conveys a strong message to the existing industry that the dull days are over and it’s time to cheer up. While we harp on the past we need to look at the large opportunities ahead.  GIDC will need to be reinvented and we have to work towards this. Let us recall the substantial activities that took place in 2006 to 2012. We can’t simply ignore this. We are not politicians and should talk facts. Verna water reservoir was constructed and should have been in operation by January 2013, however, till now we are unable to get water from there. No one is coordinating. GIDC lacks the decision-making will. All pending cases should be listed and tabulated for one time finality. The approach should be pro-business. In Goa, we take individualized and personalized decisions and get into mess,” he strongly emphasises.

There is a dying industrial estate in Sanguem, even the people of Sanguem are not aware of it. There is neither a signboard direction nor a GIDC hoarding with the industrial map, a mandatory at the entrance of every industrial estate. But Sanguem Industrial Estate does exists. After the state-of-the-art cricket ground which is nearing completion in Ugem on the road to Salaulim Dam, the only landmark is the PWD electricity grid and set on 5 lakh sq mts of barren land and forest is the Sanguem Industrial Estate with just a steel mill, Shristi Ispat, all by itself.

This dying industrial estate may soon come alive as GIDC is planning to do a makeover and turn it into a world class industrial estate with five-star amenities. It is believed that Pepsi has acquired land and will embark on its soft drink fizz to supply beyond the borders of Goa.

Existing industrialists wanting to expand are wondering what are four-wheelers and car showrooms doing in Kakoda and Mapusa industrial estates. While Colvale Industrial estate is becoming an eyesore with growing scrap dealers, Pilerne is becoming a zone for granite traders.

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