Guwahati: The ongoing agitation against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and state government’s announcement to introduce new land policy putting restriction on sale of land to non-indigenous people have not only impacted the investment climate in Assam but also driving away the prospective investors.
Informing that many companies who were in process of procuring land in Assam have put their projects on hold, sources in the industry told this newspaper that state government’s decision to introduce ‘new land policy’ in which the government is contemplating to ban sale of land to non-indigenous people has created fear among industrialists who had invested huge amount of money in land.
Pointing out that dozens of sale and purchase agreements have already been cancelled or put on hold, sources said that fear of crash in land price is also looming large.
The impact of anti-CAA movement was more visible when Assam minister for commerce and industry, transport and parliamentary affairs Chandra Mohan Patowary told reporters, “Many companies are now refusing to come here. Being the industry minister, I am today the most despondent person in Assam. There are companies from countries like Hungary and Norway which were keen to invest in the state. Now they are calling us and saying that they are no longer willing to do so. One company was planning to invest Rs 2,000 crore, while another had investment plans of Rs 4,000 crore. But now they are telling us that this is not the correct time to hedge their bets on Assam.”
He, however, refrained from giving the exact figure regarding the loss of prospective investment suffered by the state or the number of companies which have backtracked due to the anti-CAA agitation.
Patowary, who was working tirelessly to bring in investment, said that once a state loses its image as an ideal investment destination, it is not easy to regain that status. He said that corporate houses seek favourable environment.
He argued, “Today there is peace in Kashmir. But companies are still reluctant to invest there, because once an impression is formed then it becomes difficult to alter it. The North-East was a disturbed region for a long time. But in the past three and half years the image of Assam had changed and companies were making a beeline here. Then scenes of burning tyres on the streets went viral. It is a huge loss for Assam.”
He further said that Abu Dhabi-based billionaire businessman B.R. Shetty, who had shown interest in acquiring the Nagaon and Cachar paper mills, is now become reluctant to go ahead with the plan.
“He called a few days back and said that he will not come to Assam now as the time is not conducive. But I have not given up hope. I will talk to him again. If necessary, I will visit Abu Dhabi and meet him,” said Patowary while regretting that a big food processing firm from London too was in talks.
“They wanted to set up a unit in Assam. Now the company has cancelled the plan,” said the industry minister who reiterated that all sections of society to come together to ensure that agitation should not hurt the economic development of the state.