The country’s first smart city that is expected to take shape at the Dholera Special Investment Region (SIR) and the first International Financial Services Centre at GIFT City are two of the major infrastructure projects in Gujarat that are expected to get a major boost through the 2015-16 Budget presented by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday.
Jaitley not only praised both these projects, but also laid out a roadmap for giving a financial boost to these projects that have been strongly pursued by the Gujarat government for the last several years.
“I am delighted to report good progress for DMIC (Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor) corridor: the Ahmedabad-Dholera Investment Region in Gujarat, and the Shendra-Bidkin Industrial Park near Aurangabad, in Maharashtra, are now in a position to start work on basic infrastructure. In the current year, I have earmarked an initial sum of Rs 1,200 crore. However, as the pace of expenditure picks up, I will provide them additional funds,” Jaitley said in his Budget speech.
The provision made in Union Budget for Dholera SIR – the first and the biggest of the seven nodes of DMIC – comes just days after the Gujarat government made a “special allocation” of Rs 30 crore for the Dholera Special Investment Region (SIR) in the state Budget presented earlier this week. The state Budget also talked about four-laning of the all important Bhavnagar-Ahmedabad road that passes through the Dholera SIR.
These provisions for the Dholera SIR from both the Union and State governments come at a crucial time. The Gujarat government has already floated Request for Quotation for about Rs 2,000 crore of infrastructure works that it plans to undertake in the 22.5 square kilometre of “activation area” within the Dholera SIR that has been created to act as a catalyst for further investments from local and global players.
Various trunk infrastructure projects that will be developed in this “activation area” include 72 kms of roads and utility services, potable water supply, desalination plant, waste water treatment plant, 430 MW of power infrastructure, 500 kms of conduits for creating an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) network and 14,000 square metres of built-up area that will form the administrative and business centre for Dholera in Phase-I. The Gujarat government has also divided the developable area in Dholera SIR — which is spread over a total of 920 square kilometres — into six town planning (TP) schemes.
Pointing out a lacunae in the smart city plan, Anuj Puri, country head of Jones Lang LaSalle says, “The Budget did not provide any details on this (Smart Cities) initiative. Factors such as how it will define these cities and which cities have been identified remain unclear.”
IFSC REGULATIONS IN MARCH: JAITLEY
APART from Dholera SIR, the other major infrastructure project in Gujarat that received attention is the Gujarat International Finance Tec-City or the GIFT City project that has been the one of the pet projects of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that was conceptualised way back in 2007 and marketed as a top-notch global financial centre. However, most of the Rs 9,000 crore of investments that it has attracted so far has come after the Modi became PM. In his Budget speech, Jaitley said, “I am glad to announce that the first phase of GIFT City will soon become a reality. Appropriate regulations will be issued in March.”
‘WILL BRING IN MORE INVESTMENT’
“WE had got an approval to set up an International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) way back in December 2011. But in the absence of rules and regulations we were not able to operationalise it. In the Budget speech, the government’s commitment towards the project can be clearly seen. The rules will make GIFT City more popular and it will bring in more investments and more jobs in the coming days,” said Ramakant Jha, MD of GIFT City at Gandhinagar.
The IFSC, spread over 261 acres is part of the 900-acre GIFT City project. It’s expected to generate about two lakh jobs. In the last few weeks, BSE and NSE have announced to set up international exchanges at GIFT City.
WORLD-CLASS IFC, SAYS BSE CHIEF
The MD and CEO of BSE Ashishkumar Chauhan said in a statement issued here, “Setting up of IFC in GIFT City was a part of the vision of the PM which was supported by BSE. This would help establish an International Finance Centre which can compete on rules, regulations and ease of business with other international finance centres such as Hong Kong, Dubai and London.”
A mixed bag for state industry
The industry in Gujarat largely termed Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s Budget as “positive and bold”. However, there were a few others who felt it did not do enough for the government’s “Make in India” campaign. “We all expected a host of announcements to support manufacturing in India in a big way. There is hardly any tax reforms or policy change announced to support Make in India further…” said Piruz Khambatta, CMD of Rasna Pvt Ltd and chairman-CII National Committee on Food Processing. Real-estate developers are largely unhappy. “The Union Budget leaves the current problems of real estate where they are,” says Jaxay Shah, national vice-president of CREDAI and MD of Savvy Group. “The focus on infrastructure and the ports sector will be major positives for Gujarat,” says Rajiv Vastupal, Chairman of FICCI Gujarat State Council. Piyush Shah, MD of Hitachi Hi-Rel Power Electronics Pvt Ltd, said certain initiatives like creation of MUDRA Bank will help address the financial needs of small entrepreneurs.