In the bone-dry villages dotting the sprawl of Maharashtra’s proposed Shendra-Bidkin Mega Industrial Park, it is difficult to overstate the anticipation surrounding this to-be smart city in backward Marathwada.
One of the early bird projects along the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC), Shendra-Bidkin, once complete, will be an 80 sq km expanse for manufacturing.
It is seen as a game changer not only by industry and bureaucrats but also by a string of industrial suppliers, smaller entrepreneurs and even farmers who have signed off their lands for record compensation packages and now hope to pick up fringe entrepreneurial jobs in the service sector as foreign investment catalyses growth.
In a presentation made to Aurangabad’s industry captains recently, government officials said they expect to “double employment, triple industrial output and quadruple exports” from the region in five years.
The twin reasons for that cockiness are that for one, land acquisition is already complete and two, the Devendra Fadnavis government is making an unprecedented push for improving ease of business in Maharashtra.
Of the nearly 4,000 hectares that will comprise Phase One, 845 hectares are already in the MIDC’s possession with the remaining due for acquisition in May. The agency is now racing ahead with master plans, concept plans, skill development initiatives and detailed consultations.
“The first priority is building infrastructure,” said DMIC General Manager for Shendra-Bidkin, Gajanan Patil. Apart from four-lane roads connecting Shendra and Bidkin to NH-211 and two flyovers, various consultants are focusing on plans for sewerage operations, water supply and other built infrastructure.
By March, even the remaining land — 3,200 hectares — will be acquired. “Land acquisition has been a huge success for us,” said MIDC’s Regional Officer AM Shinde, who personally visited affected villages repeatedly, starting up a dialogue with residents that lasted nearly two years. “Fair, handsome compensation and complete transparency is how we did it,” Shinde said. As many as 3,500 farmers are affected, the first batch already compensated at up to Rs 23 lakh an acre. MIDC has picked up the tab — Rs 1,800 crore.
A large slice of the acquired land is for a multi-modal logistics park at Karmad, 4 km from Shendra and next door to the proposed JNPT dry port. This could add to Shendra-Bidkin’s appeal, with officials already talking about a possible exports promotion zone.
But Aurangabad’s industry majors say simply providing a large industrial park may not give Shendra-Bidkin the edge over others competing for the same investment pie.
“There’s Neemrana, Gujarat, Telangana,” said Munish Sharma, president of the Chamber of Marathwada Industries and Agriculture (CMIA). An industry trip to Neemrana, he said, proved that despite Aurangabad’s industry being much more mature in terms of industrial relations, supply chains, skill availability and an on-time work culture, Neemrana had simply been marketed better, helped along by existing Japanese investment.
The industry bodies are bubbling with ideas, calling for a clear vision on what kinds of industry to woo, and how.
Ram Bhogale, president of the Maharashtra Chamber of Commerce, Industry & Agriculture, says one of the strong ideas they’re offering is a ‘plug and play’ concept. “Why not have ready industrial sheds… with everything from electrical supply to firefighting systems to housekeeping all handled by other agencies?” he said. This will serve to further nudge ease of business while opening the field for local entrepreneurship.