Hours after the Vedanta-Foxconn joint venture signed a memorandum of understanding with the Gujarat government Tuesday for its semiconductor facility, Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde, who drew Opposition fire for letting the Rs 1.5 lakh crore project “slip out” of the state, spoke to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and was assured that the Centre would help bring “big projects” to the state.
Shinde told reporters Wednesday: “It has been only one-and-half months for our government. As soon as we came to power, Dy CM (Devendra) Fadnavis and I held meetings with Foxconn and Vedanta. We requested, offered them a subsidy of Rs 39,000 crore.”
“Such projects don’t go out of hand in one or two months. The company had already made up its mind, and may have thought the (previous MVA) government would not help. They didn’t know the government would change. Their decision was already made, so they signed the MoU (with Gujarat). But now they have tweeted that they will expand here in future. They want to create a manufacturing hub for iPhone and TV equipment. This is also a big thing. We welcome it,” he said.
“I have requested PM Modi ji that there is a need to give boost to industries here since there is scope, infrastructure and potential, and we will provide all incentives. He has promised that the Centre will do everything for that… and help bring big projects to the state,” Shinde said.
Earlier, Maharashtra Industries Minister Uday Samant said the CM spoke to the PM Tuesday night and was assured of “some other big project” for the state.
“We are committed to bringing industries to the state. Chief Minister Eknath Shinde spoke to Prime Minister Modi on Tuesday night and discussed the project at length. CM Shinde also expressed concern over the project. Modiji has assured that some other big project will be brought to Maharashtra soon,” Samant told a press conference in Thane.
He said the state government would find out why Vedanta preferred Gujarat to Maharashtra. Within a fortnight, a delegation led by Shinde, he said, would leave for Delhi to meet the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister for bringing more industries to the state.
Samant blamed the previous Uddhav Thackeray-led MVA government for not giving a “satisfactory” response to the company in terms of providing incentives and facilities.
“Claims are being made that meetings were held (in July by Shinde and Fadnavis) to bring the project of Foxconn to Maharashtra. But if an industry has to be brought to the state, it has to be approved by a meeting of the high power committee (HPC). No such meeting was held by Maha Vikas Aghadi for the project,” he said.
According to Samant, the HPC held its meeting on July 15 in which an incentive package of around Rs 38,831 crore was finalised.
Shiv Sena leader and former Industries Minister Subhash Desai, rejected Samant’s claim and said the incentive package offered by the Gujarat government was much less than what Maharashtra had offered.
“When I held discussions with the company, we calculated the total incentive that was being offered, based on land, water and power costs. It was around Rs 38,000 crore and we told them that we can increase it up to Rs 40,000 crore. The company had not shown any disappointment over our offer,” he said.
Desai claimed that the present package offered by Gujarat was less than the Maharashtra offer. “If the project has gone to Gujarat despite that, then it is clear that the decision is political, and under pressure from the Central government,” he said.
More than seven years ago, the then BJP-Sena government led by Fadnavis had first announced plans by Foxconn to invest in the state. An MoU was signed between the Maharashtra government and Foxconn with the latter planning a $5-billion semiconductor facility in Talegaon near Pune on August 8, 2015. The project, however, did not take off. In 2019, Fadnavis lost the chief ministership after the Sena and BJP parted ways post Assembly elections.
On Wednesday, a day after Vedanta-Foxconn signed an MoU with the Gujarat government, a Taiwanese team – Foxconn is a Taiwanese manufacturing giant which has formed a JV with mining conglomerate Vedanta – began surveying likely sites in Gujarat for the semiconductor facilities.
“About 8-10 officials have started carrying out site surveys and will finalise the location for these projects within a couple of weeks. The cumulative land requirement for two facilities is around 700 acres,” the official said without divulging the locations.
It is learnt that Vedanta and Foxconn officials held six meetings, over a period of nearly two months, with the Gujarat government, two of which were with Chief Minister Bhupendra Patel.
“The stability of the government in Gujarat and the fact that we stuck to our promise of not divulging the details of our meetings worked in our favour. On the other hand, Maharashtra not only went public about the meetings, they even declared that the project was coming to their state,” the official said.
The meetings with the Gujarat government took place after the state declared a special semiconductor policy in July to build a Semicon City in the Dholera Special Investment Region (about 100 km from Ahmedabad) and offered land at 75 per cent discount to the first mover. The subsidy on land is only for those setting up units in the Dholera SIR.