Q&A: C K Mishra,, Principal Secretary Department of Industries, Bihar
Satyavrat Mishra / March 22, 2011
The Bihar government is treating small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as drivers of growth for the state. However, big players too are welcome in the state. In a conversation with Satyavrat Mishra, Principal Secretary of the Industries Department C K Mishra presents a roadmap for the development of Bihar.
In the last five years, the atmosphere in the state has changed a lot. But big names are still shy of Bihar. Why?
It is not like that. In the last five years companies like Reliance, HPCL, Britannia and Nestle have shown interest in investing in Bihar. However, due to some unforeseen events, a few of these proposals did not materialise. However, a majority of them are still working on their projects in the state. However, I feel the way forward for Bihar would come from the SMEs. We have to first understand our strengths. Agriculture is our strength. We have to encourage it. We have to encourage agro based industries like food processing in the state. It will ensure inclusive development for the state.
You are right about that, but do you think the state can survive without heavy industries?
We cannot afford to neglect them. More than Rs 1.35 trillion of investment is proposed in the electricity and ethanol production. However, there are some problems in their way. Besides, they do take very long gestation period to come up. We do not have coal mines and mineral ores. This complicates the matter a little further. We have to be dependent on other states. On the other hand, small industries like food processing do not need much of a gestation period. People can feel their effect and benefits much earlier. But it does not mean that we do not want them to come. We want them desperately. They will invest heavily and it can provide thousands of jobs. They can bring in many of their supporting units and competitors too. So, it is essential for Bihar to attract big industries. Its effects can take years to show, but they can be much better than the expectations.
You spoke about ethanol production. However, the hopes about reviving sugar industry in the state have been quashed as the bill related to ethanol production in the state is yet to see the light of day. What is the state government going to do for this sector?
It is not like that. In fact, we are doing much better than expectations in sugar industries. In the last three years, we have invited bids to lease out 15 of our closed sugar mills. We were successful in leasing six of them. We have leased two of our closed units to Hindustan Petrochemicals Ltd. (HPCL). We have handed over our Motipur Sugar Mill to Indian Potash Ltd, a public sector company. Meanwhile, three of our closed sugar mills have been leased to private companies too. Rest nine mills will also be leased out very soon.
In the matter of crushing of sugarcane, we are not behind. We have crushed more than 3.2 million tonnes of sugarcane in our mills. We are hopeful that we will end this season with not less than 3.5 million tonnes of crushed sugarcane. In the last few years, the acreage of sugarcane has also increased tremendously. In 2009-10, the total acreage of sugarcane in the state was quarter of a million hectare with production of almost 12 million tonnes. However, in this fiscal, acreage and production have increased. This year, we were able to cultivate sugarcane on 312,000 hectares. Production too took a hike and now stands at 15 million tonnes. The sugar mills in the state are running at full capacity, which is really remarkable for a state like Biha