Revving up the growth engine
Commonly referred to as the "Food Basket of India", the State of Punjab is set to embark on another phase of high growth. Sample this: 6 mega projects entailing an investment of approximately US $ 187 million have been approved, establishment of high-powered Investment Promotion Advisory Council headed by the Chief Minister, foundation stone for the upcoming international airport at Mohali will be laid soon.
In addition, the government has sought more direct international flights out of Punjab, seeking inputs from industrialists to create a business friendly environment, developing Bhatinda as the petro-chemical hub of the region. These are some of the developments, over the past few weeks, which indicate that the state is keen on consolidating its position as one of the most attractive places to invest in India.
Since the time of the Green Revolution, agriculture has flourished in Punjab. Policy initiatives have led to the development of agriculture and agro-based industries in the state. The focus now is to take this to the next level by encouraging commercialisation of agriculture and growing the food processing industry in the state. Besides agriculture, the state has a sound industrial base with textiles, chemical and chemical products, light engineering goods, ready-made garments and hosiery, sports goods, besides other industries. The progress the state has made over the years can be gauged from the following – Punjab has the fifth highest net state GDP in the country and is the sixth fastest growing state, has the highest access to safe drinking water among all Indian states, higher literacy rate than the national average of 74 per cent and one of the highest irrigated areas in the country.
These indicators are complimented by the good infrastructure facilities in the state. Punjab, with an installed capacity of 5081 MW, will be a power surplus state by 2014. The state has road connectivity to all villages and the government is embarking on a drive to convert all major roads into four and six lanes. Direct international air connectivity with the state capital would be established by 2014 and the upcoming airport at Mohali would be modeled on international lines. Besides these steps to create a world class infrastructure, the state is paying special attention on education and health services. Over the last decade, Punjab has emerged as a hub for skilled workforce with many domestic and multi-national companies setting up operations to take advantage of quality talent available in the state.
Punjab is among the few Indian states that have strong diaspora spread across the world. The contribution of the NRI and PIO community to the state has been immense and the government is taking special steps to address their concerns. Besides increasing the level of engagement with the community, the government recently launched a scheme under which if an NRI contributes 25 per cent for a development project in the state, the Government will provide the remaining 50-75 per cent of the funds.