Invest Karnataka 2016”, the showcase event of the Siddharamaiah government to woo investors, is getting massive response from the industry and people in general. In a bid to give thrust to the investment process, the infrastructure issues are being addressed on a war footing by the PWD department of the government of Karnataka. In an exclusive chat with Vijay Grover, Karnataka PWD minister H.C. Mahadevappa said: “We are working with an open mind for development and the industry can suggest what it wants.” He also added that “Invest Karnataka 2016” is not an investment destination, it is only the beginning of the journey. Excerpts:
Q: Connectivity and infrastructure coming under your ministry are the crucial lifelines for the industry to consider investing. At “Invest Karnataka 2016”, what is it that you are offering to the industrial sector?
A: This event is going to be a very successful one; there has been a lot of improvement in the investment climate from the time the Siddharamaiah government came to power. We are already the number two state as far as getting fresh investments are concerned. This event will give us an opportunity to understand what the industrial sector wants. We are looking at working on how we can offer still better connectivity through National Highways, state highways and other roads which are vital.
Q: What steps are you taking to assure the industrial sector that a proper infrastructure support can be provided?
A: We have already developed over 12,000 km of roads in the state in the past two years. Be it under the Karnataka Road Development Corporation, KASHIP (Karnataka State Highway Improvement Project) which comes under the World Bank and ADB, we have already ensured that there are no issues if someone wants to set up industry in different parts of the state like Hubli, Belgaum , Shimoga , Raichur , Gulbarga Mangalore etc .
Q: There has been a proposal to utilise the Mumbai-Bengaluru highway as a node for infrastructure development. What’s the status on the plan?
A: Siddharamaiahji has always insisted that we should use the existing resources in the best possible way. There has been thinking on laying stress on the development of the National Highway connecting Mumbai-Bengaluru to develop industrial corridors along it. The idea has caught on and the National Highway is being developed to facilitate tourism along the highway and also, bring industry and development in various parts of the state with better access.
Q: You have met several industry delegates during the road shows, what are their expectations on what your government can offer?
A: We have been working to ensure that industry finds it easy to invest. We have a very collaborative approach and understand what the investors want. I had recently visited Coimbatore along with the Chief Minister and officers to meet industrialists during the road show and they were keen to invest in Karnataka. We offered them investment options in Chamaraj Nagar, a district close to Coimbatore. I can tell you that they were excited and we now have a scenario where the industry is investing in the district which many had termed as one of the most backward.
Q: Bengaluru continues to be the most favourite investment destination despite the traffic issues and the other concerns. What is the government doing to provide investment options in and around Bengaluru?
A: The industry certainly wants to make investments in satellite towns surrounding Bengaluru and the Siddharamaiahji government has several dedicated proposals for them. As far as my ministry is concerned, we have already been working on developing the STRR (Satellite Towns Radial Road) and the PRR (Peripheral Radial Road) projects to give a thrust to infrastructure development so that movement of goods and people into and out of the city becomes faster.
Q: What’s the message to the delegates, if some have apprehensions?
A: The investors can come freely and see the friendly atmosphere. We are a very open government working for the common man and we are willing to encourage job creation ideas. We welcome investments by giving them VAT exemptions, KIADB approved land and, importantly, infrastructure which will make the investors get good returns. More importantly, we are a government which is very receptive to good suggestions and for me, personally, the “Invest Karnataka” event is not the finality of investment proposals; instead, we are looking forward to taking things forward from here as we will be getting an opportunity to interact with some of the best in the business community.