Haryana CM hard sells ‘Happening Haryana’ summit in Bengal

From The Telegraph

Wang Jianlin, one of the richest men in China, had come tantalisingly close to Mamata Banerjee’s Bengal when his plane made an emergency landing in Agartala on June 12 while he was flying back after meeting Narendra Modi. Months later, the industrialist committed $10-billion (around Rs 70,000 crore) to Haryana.

Now, Haryana has come to Bengal to promote its maiden business summit and tom-tom its prize catch, days after a preliminary agreement was signed for an industrial park, the Jianlin-led Dalian Wanda Group’s biggest investment in India.

“The Wanda group will invest $10 billion in our state over the next four years…. This is a big achievement for us,” Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar said in Calcutta today. He and the BJP-ruled state’s industries minister, Captain Abhimanyu, were in Bengal today along with senior bureaucrats to hardsell the summit – Happening Haryana – to be held between March 7 and 9.

 They met several business representatives from ITC, India Power Corporation, Vikram Solar and Shyam Steel, among others, to invite them to the summit. At a news conference in a city hotel, Khattar and Abhimanyu said the meetings yielded business proposals worth Rs 5,000 crore. The Haryana team also held a road-show in the city.

The Wanda group, which has interests in commercial property, tourism, e-commerce and department stores, will set up the industrial park in Kharkhoda, Sonipat, outside Delhi.

Earlier this month, Khattar was in China to pitch for investments in Haryana. The preliminary deal with Wanda was signed during that visit.

Told that the Bengal government was also trying to woo investors from across the globe, including China, the Haryana chief minister said: “It’s not that I went there and this deal was done. Our government has been working on it for some time.”

Last year, Bengal industries minister Amit Mitra had visited China to scout for investments.

Sources in the Haryana government said the Wanda group was chosen after Jianlin’s June visit, during which he had sought information on the land acquisition process and policies for commercial development and retail construction in states such as Delhi, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra.

Abhimanyu said today that the Haryana government had large plots for big industries. The minister said the state would not acquire land for investors but would clear hurdles that might crop up. Haryana has notified 31 blocks that don’t require changes in land use (farmland to industrial/commercial).

Representatives of some Chinese companies had attended the Bengal Global Business Summit earlier this month. Zhongtong, a bus-manufacturing company, promised to set up a manufacturing unit in Bengal at an investment of Rs 1,500 crore.

It could not be ascertained from the Bengal industries department if efforts had been made to reach out to the Wanda group, which was not represented at the summit.

The Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government had invited Salim and Ciputra of Malaysia to build urban infrastructure in the state but the plans were aborted because of the land acquisition protests in Singur and Nandigram.

Today, the Haryana chief minister highlighted the deal with the Wanda group.

“This is the first such summit in Haryana. We had thought that it would help us get investments of around Rs 1 lakh crore. But with the Wanda group promising more than Rs 70,000 crore, I think we will surely surpass the target,” Khattar said. Abhimanyu said that last year, Haryana had attracted investments worth around Rs 20,000 crore.

If the Wanda deal materialises, it will be one of the biggest foreign direct investments in the construction sector, for which the BJP-led NDA government is inviting overseas players by tweaking norms.

Khattar conceded that availability of land was a problem in Haryana but assured that his government had tried its best to arrange land for Wanda. Haryana has a land-ceiling act like Bengal, but the northern state has provisions that allow the corporate sector to acquire and hold ceiling-excess land.

“They had sought 3,000 acres from us, but we could give 2,200 acres to begin with,” Khattar said.

According to Abhimanyu, “good” law-and-order situation coupled with “ease of doing business” were big draws for Haryana. “Stable and predictive policy plus a proactive government are key drivers to get investment,” he said.

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