On a day when the foundation stone for Suzuki Group’s new Rs 3000 crore “vehicle manufacturing” plant was laid at Hansalpur near Ahmedabad, both Suzuki Group chairman Osamu Suzuki and Gujarat chief minister Anandi Patel appealed to the locals to “cooperate” in setting up a plant in a region where the Gujarat government has faced the strongest protests from farmers in setting up a SIR (Special Investment Region).
“There is a lot of people from this region who have present here. Brothers and sisters, we want to set up this plant with your co-operation. I want to request co-operation from your side to help us manufacture the vehicles and export them across the world,” said Suzuki whose speech was translated to Hindi from Japanese.
He also said that a lot of Japanese employees will be coming to the state to set up the plant.
The appeal was made on a day when Suzuki took an important step for investing Rs 8500 crore in this part of Ahmedabad district of Gujarat. The Japanese car manufacturer will be initially investing Rs 3000 crore in first phase in a region where farmers’ protests against land acquisitions had recently forced Gujarat government to scale down the size of the Mandal-Becharaji SIR.
“We have set a target of May 2017 to start (vehicle) production at this new plant. Initially, we will have a production capacity of 1.5 lakh units. This will be scaled up to 2.5 lakh. Later we will set up a second and third plant (read assembly lines) which will take the total production capacity of Suzuki in Gujarat to 7.5 lakh vehicles,” said Suzuki narrating how his Group has completed 30 years in India and is currently producing 12 lakh vehicles annually.
Gujarat chief minister Anandi Patel too made a similar appeal to people who were brought to the venue of the upcoming Suzuki plant from nearby areas of Kadi, Sanand, Sankeshwar, Becharaji, Mandal, Detroj, Viramgam and others.
“Wasn’t Baawal ( Prosopis Juliflora which is locally known as Ganda Baawal) growing here all around? Now Baaval has been replaced by Suzuki (plant). This is development,” said Patel while addressing the gathering in Gujarati.
Directly referring to the state government’s efforts in creating SIRs including the Mandal-Becharaji SIR for the betterment of the locals in form of jobs and opportunities, “There are times when we make mistakes. We get carried away due to which the process of development is stalled.”
“A lot of people now come to me saying that they have made a mistake. I have come here to tell you for the last time to never ever make such mistakes again. This government will give back ten times of what it takes. You will not realise this today,” she said without directly referring to the farmer’s agitation that forced the state government to reduce the size of Mandal-Becharaji SIR to little over 10000 hectares covering 8 villages from the earlier 50000 hectates in 44 villages.
“You yourself will agree that after Suzuki decided to set up their plant here, the prices of land that even did not fetch Rs 500 (a bigha) have grown multifold. This is the biggest profit,” she added.
Talking about the jobs and opportunities companies like Honda and Suzuki will create, Patel said, “When over 7.5 lakh cars will be made here and if 2.5 lakh of them are sold in Gujarat, then won’t drivers be needed. If not anything else, at least learn driving.”
Patel gave her own example of how she had started of earning Rs 400 as a teacher. She said that today she gets a pension of Rs 25000.
She also appealed to youths and students of near areas of Mandal, Detroj, Viramgam to upgrade their education and skills to get jobs in new upcoming facilities like that of Suzuki.
Meanwhile, Japanese Ambassador to India, Takeshi Yagi emphasized how Japanese presence in Gujarat has grown from being a single company in 2002 to 26 companies with 220 branches now.
“In the last 12 months, the number of companies in Gujarat has doubled and the branches tripled. It will not be too long before the number of companies touch 100,” Yagi said at the event.