NIMZ project remains non-starter in Andhra Pradesh

Vastavam web: More than half-a-decade after it was conceived, the proposed National Investment and Manufacturing Zone (NIMZ) project in Andhra Pradesh has remained a non-starter as the state government was yet to acquire the required land.The Centre had in 2013 sanctioned three NIMZs for the then undivided Andhra Pradesh with one each in Prakasam, Chittoor and Medak districts (the last is now in Telangana) with Chinese participation in one of them.

The final approval was accorded in October 2015 and the Centre had informed Andhra Pradesh government two months later that Rs 10,899 crore would be invested in the first phase of the project by 2020.The Centre had in October, 2015 asked the state government to transfer over 14,000 acres of land to a special purpose vehicle (SPV) set up for the project within 18 months.

At least four reminders had been sent in the last two-and-half years to the state government asking it to complete the necessary formalities (for land acquisition), but it had so far not complied with the requirement, a joint director in the union commerce ministry said.The state government, however, is seeking to blame the Centre, saying the promised Viability Gap Funding (VGF) of Rs 250 crore for the development of NIMZ was never delivered.While the state government was required to make available the necessary land, the Centre has to provide infrastructure like rail, road, port and telecommunication connectivity for the project.

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), under the Union Ministry of Commerce, while granting final approval for the Prakasam NIMZ on October 6, 2015, asked the state government to transfer 14,231 acres of land to the SPV within 18 months.As 2,000 acres of land is readily available, the work (on setting up NIMZ) may, meanwhile, begin immediately, the DIPP had said in a letter to the state Chief Secretary.However, a senior state Industries Department official said the work could not begin since the VGF was not given.

“Yes, 1,880 acres of land is in the possession of the Andhra Praesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation. The Centre promised Rs 250 crore as VGF, which never came. Hence, no work could be started, the official told.The APIIC had formed the SPV Prakasam National Industrial and Manufacturing Zone in December 2015 for developing the NIMZ but the required land transfer did not happen.The official said the land acquisition process had not yet been completed.”Normally in such projects with huge land requirement, acquisition happens only after the start-up area gets developed, he said.I raised the issue in Parliament twice and also wrote to the Chief Minister but the state government does not seem to be interested in developing the NIMZ, he said.

Noting that Prakasam was a backward district and there was a vast expanse of barren land, he claimed more than 4,300 acres of government land was readily available but even that had not been transferred to the NIMZ.BJP MP G V L Narasimha Rao, who has roots in Prakasam district, had also written to the chief minister noting that the NIMZ would have greatly improved the infrastructure and given a major economic boost to the region besides creating lakhs of jobs.”I am at a loss to understand why your government is denying the benefits to the people of Andhra in general and Prakasam district in particular, he had said in the letter.