Let State focus on valuation of minerals than royalty
The Annual Survey of Industries 2019 by the NSO reported on the industrial development of the usually backward States such as Bihar, Odisha and Chhattisgarh. In spite of many advantages such as a vast sea coast and mineral resources, Odisha continues to remain backward in industrialisation.
The top ten most industrialised States include Goa, TN, Maharashtra, Gujarat, UP, AP, Telangana, Kerala, Rajasthan and Haryana. It is estimated that nearly 60 per cent of the total factories are in five most industrialized States like TN, Maharashtra, Gujarat, UP and AP. It is being reported that during last 25 years of liberalisation these States have visible growth of factories. TN has highest number of factories i.e. 38,131 till 2018 from 16,617 in 1990, followed by Maharashtra, Gujarat, UP and AP. Odisha is a major supplier of migrant workers to these States. The State has only 3,063 factories. The number even is less Bihar and Chhattisgarh.
In terms of employment, Odisha has engaged about 3 lakh persons whereas TN has engaged more than 25 lakh persons. Kerala which geographically smaller than Odisha has 7,696 factories. The State has employed 3, 50,000 persons. The economic growth of TN is put together on port based economy, trade and manufacturing, having well-built infrastructure such as three major ports, 15 minor ports and eight airports with rail and road networks.
Why Odisha remains backward in industrialisation though it is the most advantageous compared to others having a long coastline and rich mineral resources. Other minerals-owning States like Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh don't enjoy this privilege. Almost all the coastal States of India are becoming urbanized and industrially developed but Odisha is an exception to the national trend.
The possible development by using both the resources has not yet taken place in Odisha. The minerals are mostly sold out for last 70 years without any value addition. The coastline also remains unexplored for its advantageous utilisation. The farmers, fisher folks and forest based communities of the State remain backward and underdeveloped. The subsequent State Governments for last 70 years have been more focused on relief and rehabilitation and very less attention has been paid to long term visions of economic growth such as industrialisation based on its many natural advantages.
Odisha is a store house of a variety of mineral wealth; even many strategic minerals such as bauxite, chromite, iron ore, uranium, lime stone, graphite, manganese and coal are available in large quantities but why these resources are not being utilised for industrialisation is an issue. Rather export of minerals to outside States in through-away price that mostly helps the private mining companies having corporate offices outside Odisha is done. The Odisha Mining Corporation is the only exception in this regard. The mineral and metallurgical products, steel and aluminum constitute a major share of total export. They are being shipped to China, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan, USA, Vietnam, Russia, Canada, Iran, UK, Germany, Spain, Australia, and UAE mostly from the Paradip port.
For a long time, though there has been constant growth of mineral production, (Currently the State accounts for 25 per cent of total major minerals production in the country) but the Government of Odisha has not mobilised adequate investments to set up mineral based industries for its value addition. It seems we are only satisfied with mineral revenue and royalty projected as growth, along with routinely demand before the Centre for increase in royalty. The amount of revenue and royalty is a very insignificant percentage of the total value of minerals and metallurgical products and by that the State has been economically exploited by a few corporate bodies with help of Central and State Governments. Even all major infrastructure of the state such as road, railway and port is being used to serve the mining companies at the cost of the development of the people.
These extractive industries have no interest in overall development of Odisha as it has been witnessed that the major mining companies have not been even addressing the issues of the locals who are getting affected due to extraction of minerals. They managed to drastically reduce the amount of fine imposed by Shah Commission on illegal mining.
Odisha must use its natural advantage to set up mineral based industries using all its possible investment options including public sector and FDI. The RSP, Nalco and many other industries coming up in different areas of the State have substantially contributed to generate employment and growth of the economy. There must be such industries in other parts of the State especially in coastal areas to use the port facilities.
Next to minerals the other natural advantage of Odisha is its 480km coastline which is lengthwise higher than Karnataka, WB and Goa but the coast having one major port and 14 small ports has not been fully used for the cohesive development of Odisha. Gujarat, TN, AP, Maharashtra and Karla have higher length of coastline than Odisha; so they have more natural advantages but many of their small ports have been developed recently due to political will of the State Government with timely support of the Central Government. Ports are becoming international economic hubs of export and import activities that generate income and employment as well as impact in improvement of quality of life of the local people and economy of the State.
Odisha has a long range of areas from Talasara of Baleswar district to Bahudamuhana of Ganjam. There are about 15 locations which can be developed into small ports along with coastal highway linking to two major developed ports Visakhapatnam and Kolkata of neighbouring States. Odisha’s costal districts mostly depend on agriculture and suffer with regular visit of natural calamities. There has been huge migration of youths from costal districts in recent years to outside in search of employment. In order to arrest the unemployment problem and ensure fast economic progress, rapid industrialisation must be taken up in Odisha.