The two-day Andhra Pradesh Global Investors Summit (GIS) 2023 concluded on Saturday, 4 March, with the Andhra Pradesh government securing 352 MoUs with an investment commitment of over ₹13 lakh crore and employment opportunities for over six lakh people.
Investment proposals came in from Reliance, Adani Group, Aditya Birla Group, ReNew power, NTPC, and the Aurobindo Group, among others, on Day 1. Day 2 saw a significant political presence and more MoUs and investment commitments.
In an exclusive chat with South First, state Minister for Industries, Infrastructure, Investment & Commerce Gudivada Amarnath highlighted the state’s plan for its people — in terms of improved employment opportunities and funding — Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy’s renewed focus on green energy, and much more. Excerpts from the conversation:
Q. Investment summits are not a novel phenomenon. States across the country have such summits now. This means states are competing against each other to attract local and foreign investment. In this context, apart from the usual incentives, branding becomes critical for states to differentiate themselves from other competitors in the investment market. So, how is Andhra Pradesh branding itself?
A. After the Covid-19 situation, we have seen this competition intensify among states like Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha, Punjab, and Assam, among others, for investments.
Andhra Pradesh is a bit different. Firstly, we have the second-longest coastline, good logistics support, an abundant landbank, and natural resources with the availability of about 48 mineral resources. We also have surplus power supply and water too.
More importantly, out of the 53 million people, almost 35 million — that’s 70 percent — are in the working age group.
Secondly, any company which is looking to invest will look at governance. In our state, we have a single-party rule that translates to stable governance. Currently, we already have companies from about 60 countries, including South Korea, the US, the UAE, European countries, among others, operating in the state. This is because of the credibility and confidence in the leadership of Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy. Therefore, credibility of our leadership is our brand image.
Also Read: Global Investors Summit: Big investment promises made on day 1
Q. Jobless growth is a major economic concern. With the rise of automation, this concern is getting exacerbated. The government has already announced more than 300 investment proposals worth lakhs of crores. Realistically, how many jobs do you think this will create in Andhra Pradesh?
A. Over the last two days, we have signed over 340 MoUs worth about ₹13 lakh crore, which will generate approximately six lakh jobs. There are two main reasons for organising this summit. One is to strengthen the economy of the state. And the other is to create employment for the youth of Andhra Pradesh.
We must focus on the second aspect, since sophisticated technologies, digitalisation, and automation have come to play a major role. This means big investments could create only a small number of jobs. Only some sectors can provide large employment like apparel, textile, and MSMEs (Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises). So, we have a special focus on the MSME sector, which is very sensitive and can lead to massive job losses without government handholding.
Towards this, we have given MSME sector about ₹1,000 crore as a restart package since it was destroyed during Covid pandemic.
Q. Does skill development also fall under this?
A. Definitely. We ae coming up with 175 skill hubs. One for each Assembly constituency. We also want to start a skill university in the state. The youth in Andhra Pradesh are not limited, skill-wise. If we train them, they can get skilled in any field, be it automotive, textile or any other sector. This ready and willing workforce is the core strength of our state’s economy and, therefore, we are focusing on the skill development sector as well.
Also Read: Global Investors Summit: AP CM underscores focus on green energy
Q. One focus area mentioned by the chief minister is renewable energy. How critical is it in Andhra Pradesh’s growth story?
A. Because of the geographical and topographical conditions in our state, we have an advantage in this sector. We already have 44 GW wind energy projects and 38 GW capacity solar energy projects. Additionally, Mukesh Ambani announced yesterday that Reliance wants to invest in a 10 GW solar energy plant.
Another one-of-a-kind project is the Pumped Storage Projects (PSPs). We are in the process of having the world’s largest integrated solar, wind, and pumped storage project in Andhra Pradesh. We have almost 33 GW storage capacity for PSP and we have already identified 29 locations across the state to set these facilities up. So, this is one of the major investments.
Q. Thus far, four locations — Yerravaram, Pedakota, Kurukutti, Karrivalasa — out of the 29 you mentioned fall in Schedule-5 area. Adani Green is investing in PSPs in the last three locations mentioned above, while Sri Sai group is investing in Yerravaram. How will the state government overcome this hurdle?
A. We will certainly go to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and request support from the Central government.
Also Read: Greenko supplied 4,950 KVA ‘clean energy’ at India’s first E-Prix
Q. On 15 February, the Union Ministry of Power released a set of draft guidelines that include exemption from environmental impact assessments and public hearings, among a slew of SOPs and waivers, for certain categories of industries in this sector. Corporates investing in PSPs stand to benefit from this. But as you know, this will create many legal hurdles, considering these projects go against the mandated PESA and FRA laws. So how will the government go about dealing with this?
A. You see, not all these 29 locations are in Schedule-5 areas. Many of these locations are in Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra. In fact, Greenko Group is investing in such a project in Kurnool. It will be the biggest integrated project of this nature in the state. Moreover, these locations that you mentioned would be a small fraction of the overall number, so we are not overtly daunted by the costs, legal and transactional, involved.
In fact, getting land for such projects in areas outside the Schedule-5 is convenient since we are paying about ₹30,000 per acre every year in areas like Rayalaseema. Moreover, many people are coming forward to help the chief minister for the development of Andhra Pradesh.