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NAGPUR :- Mihan NAGPUR faces new challenge

The multi-modal international hub airport at Nagpur (Mihan) dragging its feet for the last couple years after being hit by economic slow-down now faces a new challenge.

DelhiMumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) being planned by the central government in consonance with the state government looks set to corner fresh investment coming to the state starving Mihan which is yet to see any big player coming in the manufacturing sector.

The DMIC project is being planned to come up parallel to the proposed Dedicated Freight Corridor being set up by the Indian Railways.

Accounting for the third largest share of DMIC project area-wise, Maharashtra has put in place an enabling policy framework with an aim to strategically capture the spillover growth from Mumbai into other areas that fall under this 1,500 km long, 300 km wide belt as part of DMIC.

Under the chairmanship of chief secretary, a highpower committee has been constituted by chief ministerAshok Chavan to facilitate inter-departmental coordination and fast-tracking of approvals. Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) has been appointed as the nodal agency for DMIC-related development.

The DMIC project-districts in Maharashtra have been divided into two key Economic Influence Zone viz; Nashik-Sinnar-Igatpuri Investment Region (NSIIR) and the Dighi Port Industrial Area.

There are various industrial and mega industrial park projects being implemented under each of the two zones. Work on developing Dighi port in Raigad district as a new gateway connected by high-speed rail service, modern roads and highways has been going on for the last two years.

A multi-modal logistics park at Karla is proposed to accommodate increased traffic freight volumes, movement and connections and bring in a multiplier effect. MIDC is acquiring 70,000 hectares of land to accommodate these DMIC initiatives.

Steps are also being put in place to ensure water allocations and superior road and rail connections to and from every DMIC hub. "It sure will be a setback for Mihan and making it further difficult to attract investment from manufacturing sector. Till now only IT sector which does not have any cargo has shown interest in Mihan. With more competition within the state and from politically influential area, Mihan will no doubt suffer," said Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) Vidarbha zonal committee chairman Shivkumar Rao.

He said even the state will face a stiff completion in attracting investment as Gujarat will be the biggest beneficiary of the industrial corridor project as 38% area will be in that state.

City MPVilas Muttemwar agreed: "Mihan may find it hard to cope with fresh competition in attracting investment. More so if powers that be continue to ignore Vidarbha. The delay has already hit the project beyond repair."

However, RC Sinha, vice-chairman-cum-managing director of Maharashtra Airport Development Company (MADC) which is developing the project, is optimistic. He said both projects are different and Mihan will always have an edge due to the air-connectivity it provides.

"Moreover, it has an SEZ which invites investments from export oriented firms. So such firms will still be attracted towards the SEZ where they can get tax exemption too," said Sinha.
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