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Proposed New Investments

Bundelkhand's industrial base is small and well developed only in and around Jhansi; Sagar is emerging as an industrial centre. The situation may change by the year 2015, as concerted efforts are being made by both the UP and MP state governments to attract large industrial investment in the region.

In 2005-2008, the MP government led by Shivraj Chouhan made successful efforts to attract industrial investments in the state, by organising 'meets' with large business corporations at Khajurao, Indore, Jabalapur and Sagar. These efforts resulted in the signing of a number of MoUs, including a number of agreements for investment in MP Bundelkhand.

According a report in Deccan Chronicle (Bhopal edition, April 26, 2008):

  • Ind Agro Synergy, Bhopal, proposed to set up an 80-mW power plant and 1.5 lakh tonne iron-enrichment plant in the Purena industrial area in Panna district.
  • An MoU was signed with SPJ Steel and Minerals, Kolkata, for a Rs 2250 crore integrated steel plant and power plant at Pathariya in Damoh district
  • Another MoU was signed with the Birla group's Diamond Cement, for establishing a 250- tonne cement plant at a cost of Rs 805 crore, at Damoh, where the company already has a large investment.
  • MNR Mining, Indore, proposed to invest Rs 30 crore in a pig iron plant at Chhatarpur.
  • DC Rathore planned to set up an alcohol plant in Maihar, Sagar.
  • An MoU was signed with Neo Comforts Products, Rajkot, for jatropha cultivation, production of biodiesel and growing animal fodder in Panna and Katni districts.
  • Rashmi Cement, Kolkatta, proposed to set up an iron plant and captive power plant in Sagar at a cost of Rs 1000 crore. Sugar, ethanol and captive power plants were proposed to be set up at a cost of Rs 137.20 crore at Patna Kakri village in Rehli tehsil of Sagar district.
  • Inland Cement Company proposed to invest Rs 690 crore for establishing sponge iron and captive power plants in Chhatarpur; the company planned to subsequently  set up a cement plant.
  • M Techmach Ores and Minerals, Kolkata, proposed to set up a Rs 80-crore iron and benefaction plant in Chhatarpur district.
  • Sagar-based Prakhar Shiksha Prasar Evem Samaj Sanstha proposed another kind of investment: a private university at Sagar, at a cost of Rs 50 crore.

The state government also hopes to attract downstream and other projects in the vicinity of the jinxed Bina refinery ( see Mega Projects at Bina), investments that would exploit MP Bundelkhand's sand, dolomite and granite resources, and large amount of jatropha cultivation.

While the fate of these plans was unclear after the 2008 global economic meltdown, concern has been expressed about the environmental and social impacts of the investments. Activists of the MP Right to Food Campaign argued that  while the state government sees MP Bundelkhand as a 'huge reservoir' of land easily available at a low price, vast natural resources and cheap, non-unionised labour, the government has not foreseen the 'tremendous pressure' that would be exerted on land, water resources and agriculture of the region by entry of large industry.

Regional NGOs also point out the government has not made realistic forecasts of local employment that would be generated, and there seems to be no clear plan for training unemployed youth in large numbers to take advantage of the employment opportunities that would be generated by entry of large industry.

The benefits that would accrue to the region from industrial investments are unclear; the only clear benefits are increase in State revenues through sales tax and other levies (though in this case too, the revenues should be offset by potential loss due to fiscal and other incentives), and political benefits.

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