Karnataka to launch first biotech VCF
Karnataka is to launch India's first state sponsored biotech venture capital fund in the area of life sciences for entrepreneurs. The fund is likely to have an initial seed capital of Rs.10 crore to be operated through Karnataka State Industrial Investment & Development Corporation (KSIIDC) and Karnataka State Financial Corporation (KSFC). 

The proposal is expected to be incorporated in the new industrial policy. Karnataka is one of the first states to float a fund to support subjects like bio-technology, genetic engineering and pharmaceuticals. 

The State plans to mobilise additional funds for the bio-tech corpus from other domestic and global FIs and multilateral agencies. A joint R&D Venture between Institute of Bio-infomatics by Professor Sarat Chandra in Bangalore and Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Bangalore, and two top Singapore agencies namely Institute of Molecular and Cellular Biology and Institute of Agribiology is also to be set up. 

An ultra modern Centre for Human Genetics at the Agriculture University campus in Bangalore in a 20 acre plot is already being set up. It has also engaged Arthur Andersen to prepare a biotech strategy paper spelling out the infrastructrue and policy framework required to boost its growth and to extract optimum advantage from this stream of new economy business. ICICI is partnering the Institute for Bioinfomatics at the International Tech Park in Bangalore, right next to the Indian Institute of Information Technology (IIT-B).  

Tamil Nadu sets up TNTM 

The government of Tamil Nadu has set up the Tamil Nadu Technology Mission (TNTM) to be a focal point of scientific and technology information services. Its prime endeavour is to assist SMEs in Tamil Nadu to upgrade their technology through acquisition, adoption and transfer, apart from research. TNTM faces the gargantuan task of exposing the 3.5 lakh plus SSI Units in TN (employing 3.2 million people) to the new technologies in their industry. 

The main objectives of the mission are :
  • To promote technology transfer and develop collaborative ventures between enterprises in the state and enterprises elsewhere (both national and international);
  • To provide assistance to finance the tech transfer and upgradation;
  • To act as a repository of literature and clearing house of information on technology transfer, quality control, manpower training, managerial practices and international trade;
  • To advise the state government in tech policies;
  • To arrange seminars and workshops for bringing awareness among SMEs on the latest technologies;
  • To sponsor visits for promoting collaborations.
TNTM, which has been in operation for just under seven months, targets select sectors every year to enable better focus. In the first year, auto components and electronic goods have been included as priority sectors. 

"We act as a catalyst and bring the technology user and provider together by means of providing information and assistance, arranging seminars and visits apart from advising the government on tech policies", said Mr. Vivek Harinarain, IAS, CEO, TNTM. 

TNTM has partnered with SIDBI and companies like Spic Biotech (for focusing on the growing biotech sector). It has allied with Anna University for development of an online database for technical and technological details for SMEs through www.intechnology 

TNTM shortly expects to receive the Centre's approval for accredition as a focal point for Technology Bureau for International Industrial Partnership (TBIIP) - a Unido division. This will act as a shot in the arm, as the mission will gain access to huge funding from TBIIP for its tech upgradation and WTO sensitisation activities. 

"Not just WTO, but sheer economic sense has to make the SSIs opt for technology upgradation", Mr. Vivek added. As a preliminary step, the mission had a seminar early this year on "IT for SMEs" to discuss the application of IT in improving their efficiencies apart from providing details on opportnities in IT and enabled services. 

Tamil Nadu Technology Mission is expected to shortly create a corpus with a minimum size of Rs.2 crore for funding its technology upgradation activities and is holding talks with banks and FIs like SBI, Indian Bank, PNB, IDBI, ICICI, SIDBI for becoming their partners and contribute to their corpus". 

The state government is also expected to chip in with a major chunk. These institutions will be able to identify the right borrowers among SSIs to utilise TNTM's expertise.  

Bengal announces scheme for industrial revival 

The West Bengal government on January 14, 2001 announced Rs.100 crore worth new incentives for industries. The scheme to be effective from January 01, 2000, encompasses large, medium and small scale industries. 

The move follows the Centre's decision to have uniform sales tax, elimination of incentives and shift of modvat. Announcing the scheme, finance minister, Shri Ashim Dasgupta said it had provision for direct annual grant to new units for a definite period besides various incentives for existing ones. 

Highlights of the new scheme included capital investment subsidy, remission of stamp duty and registration fee and waiver of electricity duty. There were also additional incentives for information technology, electronics, agro and food processing and Haldia petrochemical down-stream projects.  

Rajasthan plans 2 more energy parks 

Ministry of non-conventional energy sources and Rajasthan Energy Development Agency (REDA) will jointly install energy parks in Kota and Pilani to promote generation of green power. 

"The two energy parks in Rajasthan are being set up at Engineering College, Kota, and Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani, REDA Chief Executive and Director, Shri Sudhansh Pant said. So far, three energy parks have been installed in the State at Science Park, Jaipur, Malviya Regional Engineering 

College, Jaipur, and MBM Engineering College, Jodhpur, he said, adding installation of an energy park is also under progress at CTAE, Udaipur. 

In order to encourage use of non-conventional energy in domestic sector, Jaipur Development Authority (JDA) has included the installation of Solar Water Heating Systems in its new building bylaws, under which hospitals, nursing homes, hotels, guest houses, rest houses, lodges, government residential buildings, all type of hostels and residential buildings in plot sizes over 500 square meter will have provision for installation of solar water heating system. 

All armed forces, para-military forces, police cantonments, community centres, places of community use and all other such buildings will also have similar facility for solar water heating on their roof stops. The modified bylaws will have provision for solar water heating systems whose capacity will be calculated on the basis of number of users.  

Rajasthan gives incentives for relocating of Delhi Units 

To facilitate the relocation of industries out of Delhi, the Rajasthan government would provide infrastructure and financial support to these units. The State government has also proposed to exempt these units from sales tax on a one-time inter-state transfer of goods into the state. 

Rajasthan Financial Corporation (RFC) and Rajasthan Housing Board (RHB) are conducting a special industrial promotion compaign in New Delhi for the units planning to shift to the State. RFC plans to sell about 135 units under its possession in the bordering areas like Bhiwadi, Behror, Shajahapur, Neemrana and Alwar to entrepreneurs from Delhi. RFC wants to sell these units on deferred payment/easy instalments basis and is also offering rebate on cash payments. RFC also plans to offer new plots. 

Bhiwadi Industrial Development Association has been authorised to clear and approve all the applications received relating to purchase of land. Time limits have been set for procedural clearances from various departments.  

RHB will be providing housing facilities to workers in the units by constructing low cost housing. It is offering 500 houses and about 200 acres of space in Bhiwadi area. The units wanting to shift would have to comply with the Rajasthan Pollution Control norms. 

Punjab plans to divest PSDC stake 

The Punjab government has decided to disinvest its majority shareholding in Punjab State Development Corporation (PSDC). A state disinvestment commission has also been constituted for privatisation of state public undertakings. 

The state government has also decided to restructure the District Industries Centres as Micro Enterprises Development Centre for providing advisory services for self-employment in the area of finance, production, marketing, organising training programmes and consultancy support. 

Punjab Small Industries and Exports Corporation (PSIEC) has decided to offer land on priority basis for relocation of industry from Delhi. Provision shall also be made for allotting small plots to the service industries.  

UP govt. bid to attract investment in agro-based industry 

In a bid to attract investment in agro-based industries in Uttar Pradesh and enhance its export potential in fruits and vegetables, the State government organised a four-day `agri expo' in Lucknow from February 17 this year. 

"Our idea is to present Uttar Pradesh to industrialists for attracting investment mainly in the food processing sector besides showcasing latest technologies before farmers of the state", the State's agriculture and agro export minister Diwakar Vikram Singh said. 

Agri Expo-2001 is being organised by the Centre for Agriculture and Rural Development, in collaboration with Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and Uttar Pradesh government and would apprise the farmers, industries and investors about the challenges of WTO regime. 

About 200 industries and one lakh individual participants including over 60,000 progressive farmers are likely to take part in the event, which would create awareness about agricultural potential of the State and its business opportunities and scope for investment.  

Orissa seeks RBI nod for one-time settlement scheme 

The Orissa government is going to introduce for the first time in the country a one-time settlement scheme in the co-operative sector to recover bad debts and has sought the approval of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) to introduce it. 

The State co-operative minister Shri Arabinda Dhali said that the NPAs of co-operative banks in the State are about Rs.350 crores. The state expects to recover at least Rs.125 crore by implementing the scheme. Nearly 22 lakh poor and marginal farmers and artisans who have defaulted are expected to benefit from this scheme.  

The government would give an opportunity to the defaulters to pay back the amount and would also waive a portion of the interest. 

The State government has suggested to NABARD to directly finance the primary agriculture co-operative societies, instead of channelising the fund through the Orissa State Co-operative banks, which only increases the lending rate. Even though the NABARD is providing funds at 6.5 per cent interest, the beneficiaries are getting it at 18 per cent rate because of the three-tier system. 

This would involve huge administrative work to deal with lakhs of primary agriculture co-operative societies in the country. There are about 3,000 such societies working in Orissa.  

Himachal to streamline PSUs 

The Himachal Pradesh government is setting up a software technology park (STP) at Shimla. 

A proposal of Rs.7 crore has been prepared as initial investment required for setting up the facilities. The Central government has already sanctioned a sum of Rs.6 crore to fund the project. 

So far the government has acquired 20,000 square feet of built up space at Shimla. It also plans to install an earth station for high-speed data connectivity at Kamna Devi, near Shimla at a projected cost of Rs.3.28 crore.  

Nagaland Plan fixed at Rs.405 crore 

A core plan size of Rs.405 crore has been approved for Nagaland for the year 2001-2002 at a meeting between Chief Minister Shri S.C. Jamir and Planning Commission, Deputy Chairman Shri K.C. Pant. 

While appreciating the State's efforts towards increasing role and responsibilities of village councils, raising tax and non-tax revenues and rationalising and redeploying manpower, Shri Pant said that efforts for additional resource mobilisation and reduction of non-plan expenditure needed to be intensified. 

Rs. 560 crore Tripura plan approved 

Annual Plan size of Tripura has been fixed at Rs.560 crore for the next fiscal. But the State has been asked to cut administrative size and mop up additional resources to utilize the full central plan allocation. 

The plan was finalised at a meeting between the Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission, Shri K.C. Pant and Tripura Chief Minister, Shri Manik Sarkar. The State has asked for more central assistance to obtain externally aided projects. Tripura has also introduced a perspective plan to attain self-sufficiency in food. 

The plan panel asked the state government to prepare an action plan for growing bamboo and rubber in the degraded forest areas. Tripura has recently revised power tariff and set about imprving its transmission network to reduce state electricity department losses.