Bihar chalks out new plans for industrialisation, job creation

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The Nitish Kumar-led NDA government in Bihar has chalked out an ambitious industrial policy with a special focus on textile, food processing and ethanol production to counter the widespread criticism from the opposition- during the 2020 reverse migration in the wake of Covid pandemic- over lack of industrialisation and jobs in the state.

With RJD slamming BJP and JDU during the 2020 Assembly elections over high unemployment in Bihar which forces people to migrate to other states, the saffron party had promised 19 Lakh jobs to locals in its manifesto. During the portfolio allocation, BJP took the industries ministry from the JDU this time. However, the 2016 industrial policy drafted under Kumar is still the guiding light with some new initiatives added to the list.

Bihar Industries Minister Shahnawaz Hussain told ET that when the Nitish Kumar government did skill mapping of the reverse migrants during the pandemic last year, it was found that 70% of the workers were from the textile sector. The state plans to harness their talent, more so as most of them have little hope of returning to their old jobs in places like Tirupur (Tamil Nadu) and Surat (Gujarat).

“Bangladesh poses a big challenge in the textile sector due to cheap labour. Bihar can meet this demand,” Hussain said, adding that the leather industry, handloom and handicraft are also on the radar of the government. A textile hub is being created in Bettiah.

A textile policy outlining various aspects of this sector and the prospects in the state is in the offing.

The state has also drawn a new Ethanol Production Promotion Policy, 2021 and several industrial houses have shown interest in starting their projects in Bihar.

“Traditionally, Bihar has been a leader in sugarcane production in India and is also home to a large number of molasses-based distillery units. Ethanol manufacturing in the state using sugarcane juice, maize and broken rice as feed-stock has significant potential for growth,” the policy document states. Hussain said Bihar produces 40 lakh ton of maize above its consumption needs and this can be used for making ethanol. Bihar is one of the few states which have prohibition.

Subsidy of Rs 5 Crore and easy financing of projects for ethanol production are among the incentives.

Among the new initiatives for industry is the creation of food processing parks. The state has set aside 78 acre land in Motipur, Muzaffarpur for one such project where prominent brands have shown interest in putting up their projects.

The state is offering several sops and incentives, good law and order, proper roads and connectivity, and uninterrupted power to attract investors. This includes land at reasonable prices, subsidies and easy loans. Hussain said around 4000 acre of land will be made available for industry in the state and investment above Rs 6000 Crore is expected in the next few months.

The state already has several cement factories with players like Dalmia, Sri Bangar and others having a presence. Other sectors where investment is expected include pharmaceuticals, toys, electronics and plastic.

The Bihar government is hopeful of creating employment, both direct and indirect, through these new ventures.

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