Calling for closer coordination between the states and the Centre to address bottlenecks, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said states were not necessarily promoting manufacturing and exports with all such activities being concentrated with a department at the Centre.
The Central government will set up state-level export commissions to facilitate and promote exports, Modi said at Nhava Sheva near Mumbai after laying the foundation stone for a special economic zone (SEZ) at the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust.
“With state-level export commissions, states can also encourage their manufacturing companies. There would be a system in place at the state level to look into issues of units engaged in exports. If the states and the Centre work together and stress on nuances such as innovation, technology transfer, designing and packaging, then the current condition of the country where imports are piling up and exports are tapering, can change,” he said.
Modi said the Union government had recently called for a meeting of state representatives on export promotion to discuss problems faced by exporting units and ways to simplify the prevalent systems.
Currently, the ministry’s department of commerce is in charge of export promotion and coordination with various units across India.
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At the event, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan drew Modi’s attention to 146 SEZs that Maharashtra had cleared, but have failed to attract sufficient investments as the facilities that they were promised were not provided, mainly due to hurdles such as the dividend distribution tax. Twenty-three of these have now been scrapped, he said.
Taking a shot at the previous UPA government, Modi, said, “Chavan must have had these concerns even earlier, but was probably unable to voice them at that time.”
“This is an old disease and perhaps old diseases just need a good doctor to cure them. I share Chavan’s concerns and our government will address them adequately. I have created a team in my own office to look into why these projects could not take off or were grounded. It’s not an issue for Maharashtra alone. The entire country is facing such problems,” he said.
The Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust SEZ, to be completed in three years under the engineering, procurement and construction model, will focus on developing free trade warehousing zones, sectors for engineering goods, electronics, hardware, non-conventional energy, IT, healthcare, apparel and textiles. The state government’s proposed Sewri-Nhava Sheva Mumbai Trans Harbour Link will provide connectivity to the SEZ from the island city.
The SEZ, which is likely to generate about 1.5 lakh direct and indirect jobs, would be spread over an area of 277 hectares, aiming at a total public and private investment of Rs 4,000 crore.
Nitin Gadkari, minister for road transport, highways and shipping, said the government has also decided to build dry ports at Surat, Aurangabad and Wardha since a lot of cargo comes from these cities to the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust via roads, increasing traffic and accidents.
Along with the SEZ, Modi also laid the foundation stone for a Rs 1,927-crore port connectivity highway, wherein the existing road would be widened to eight lanes and improved by constructing flyovers, railway over-bridges and interchanges to connect the port and the National Highways.
“Earlier, the government used to focus only on port development, but now just doing that is not enough. We have to pursue port-led development with appropriate rail, road, air and waterways connectivity, cold storage,warehousing and other facilities. We are launching one such project here,” Modi said, adding that the government will bring about this development on the eastern, western and southern coast through its ‘Sagar Mala’ scheme, and also encourage shipbuilding in India.
With the intention of bringing in ease of business in the shipping industry, he said the government has decided to grant lifetime licences to Indian ships, scrapping the requirement for annual renewal.
Besides, inaugurating work on the SEZ, Modi sought to resolve a long-pending issue of handing out 12.5 percent of developed land over and above the compensation paid to the project-affected people who had given their land to construct the port in the 1980s. With the Union government having sanctioned 111 hectares to be handed over to the state government for this purpose two years ago, Modi handed over land allotment letters to four of the 3,524 project-affected families.