As Maha sulks, letter shows Gadkari made a pitch for Nagpur to bag Tata-Airbus project
Amid a political row over Maharashtra losing several lucrative projects to neighbouring Gujarat, it has emerged that Union Minister Nitin Gadkari had made a strong case for Nagpur to get the ₹22,000 crore Tata-Airbus project.
On October 7, Gadkari, the Road Transport and Highways Minister, wrote a letter to Tata Sons chairman N Chandrasekaran which was shared with the media on Saturday. He wrote that Tata group companies engaged in steel, auto, consumer products, IT services, and aviation could invest in and around Nagpur, citing infrastructure, land availability, and connectivity.
War of words
Chandrasekaran had recently said the Tata Group was exploring investment avenues in electronics, electric vehicles, renewable energy, and other modern sectors and was in talks with the Shinde government for these. Yet, Maharashtra lost the ₹22,000-crore Tata Airbus project to Gujarat besides the ₹1.5-lakh-crore chip-manufacturing investment from Foxconn-Vedanta last month.
The losses have sparked a fresh war of words in the state, with the Uddhav Thackeray-led opposition party, Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA), blaming the Eknath Shinde government for the let-down. On the other hand, the BJP has blamed Uddhav for the loss.
Promise of land and infrastructure
However, it seems Gadkari did make a pitch for his home state, writing that more than 3,000 acres of land was available. “Both SEZ and non-SEZ land is available in MIHAN (Multi-Modal International Cargo Hub and Airport at Nagpur) for the Tata Airbus and various other projects of the Tata Group. Plenty of space is available here for setting up large warehouses for various groups of industries, including for Tata Airlines and other airlines,” he wrote to Chandrasekaran.
“All Tata Group companies like Tata Steel, Tata Motors, Tata Consumer Products, Voltas, Titan Industries, Big Basket may enjoy the strengths of Nagpur like overnight connectivity with 350 districts of six states, lower rates of land, manpower and warehousing,” Gadkari wrote.
Pointing out that Tata Group companies have been present in Nagpur for over a century, Gadkari argued in the letter that Tata airline ventures such as Air India, Vistara, and AirAsia India can cut costs by making the city a hub of their operations and parking their aircraft at night.
Batting for Vidarbha
Air India already has a maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) facility at MIHAN, Gadkari mentioned, stressing that the group can consider having more MROs in the region given its expansion plans in the sector. Separately, the group can look at large warehousing for aviation spares for its own use and for other airliners, he said.
Gadkari also suggested that the group could look at entering container manufacturing, saying supply from Tata Steel was possible in the Nagpur region, which would augur well for the business. TCS can augment its presence in the MIHAN area courtesy the quality education institutes in the area, Gadkari wrote.
Gadkari said he wrote the letter following a briefing from the Vidarbha Economic Development Council, requesting Chandrasekaran to have a meeting with the think-tank’s delegation on the rationale for creating a hub in Nagpur for the Tata Group. It would help develop the Vidarbha region, and fuel growth for the Tata Group as well.
(With agency inputs)