`More industrial growth centres needed'

HYDERABAD Nov. 13. The Union Minister of State for Commerce and Industry, Ch. Vidyasagar Rao, has expressed concern over the lack of progress in setting up industrial growth centres to attract small industries in Andhra Pradesh.

It was proposed to set up growth centres in four areas of the State as part of the national programme for setting up 71 centres, but only one centre at Hindupur was fully functional. Work on the other centres planned at Bobbili, Ongole and Jadcherla was yet to take off. The Centre would provide a grant of Rs 10 crores for the development of the required infrastructure for the growth centres and it was the responsibility of the State Government to attract the small units to set up their units in them. In the process, the Government could also seek additional funds from the Centre for developing the infrastructure.

The Minister told reporters on Thursday that Andhra Pradesh stood seventh in the country in terms of attracting foreign direct investments and "we have to think about it." The FDI figures for June this year pointed out that Delhi received the highest Rs 182.36 crores followed by Maharashtra (Rs 120.36 crores), Goa (Rs 80.56 crores), Gujarat (Rs 71.30 crores), Karnataka (Rs 52.39 crores) and Tamil Nadu (Rs 25.62 crores) while the inflows into Andhra Pradesh stood at a meagre Rs 1.8 crores. The State, however, showed an excellent growth in industrial production during the current year.

Andhra Pradesh figured in the international markets with its rich varieties of prawn and shrimp whose exports reached Rs 1,600 crores including Rs 835 crores from Visakhapatnam alone. Though there were some restrictions imposed by the United States on the shrimp and prawn exports due to the presence of some antibiotic residues, the export continued to register impressive growth. The Centre on its part was setting up testing centres and sending experts to educate farmers on reducing the use of pesticides. This apart, it was also proposed to start the shrimp and prawn culture in Karimnagar and Warangal districts in the tanks under the Sriramsagar project where experiments had yielded very good results.

Besides, as part of the recent Union Cabinet decision, it was also planned to reopen five to six sick units in each parliamentary constituency for which the district industries officials had been asked to identify suitable units. In addition, they were also directed to come with five new proposals for setting up units. The centre also cleared the State Government's proposal for setting up an apparel export city at Mamidipally in Maheswaram mandal on the city outskirts.

At the national level, Mr Vidyasagara Rao said, the Union Government had launched an online export and import licence issue system to facilitate faster completion of the processes and promote industrial development. Packages for industrial development in northeastern states including Sikkim had been announced while efforts were under way to attract industries to Jammu and Kashmir also. The Government was also contemplating promoting cultivation of medicinal plants which had a huge potential. The global trade of medicinal plants was of the order of 62 billion US $ of which India's share was only 1 per cent.