Union minister Jairam Ramesh during his visit stressed that Orissa broaden its horizon beyond minerals and metals. Some of his points were sensible and some others politically motivated. In another posting we give a rejoinder to his politically motivated comment on IIT in Orissa. Here we present some of his good ideas excerpted from a Statesman article.

The export of marine products should grow from its present level of Rs 370 crore to Rs 1,000 crore in five years, he said and added that an action plan to this end had been submitted to the state government. The MPEDA has given an action plan and it proposes to focus on shrimp and prawn cultivation over 20,000 hectares along Balasore and Bhadrak districts. Earlier, Mr Ramesh inaugurated the Quality Control Laboratory’ of the Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) here today. This laboratory is the fourth in its kind in the country.

Organic ginger and turmeric, coffee and other items can be grown in tribal areas of Orissa and “we have a proposal pending since long with the state government for an organic export zone to be set up at Kandhamal district,” he said. Shellac cultivation was another area where Mayurbhanj district of Orissa has been identified as one of the four districts in the country for promotion of shellac cultivation he said.

He also criticizes Orissa’s focus on mines and metal processing industries. Orissa has the mines. What should it do? Hide it? It can’t. The Hoda committee recommends that if states delay in making a recommendation then the central government can make a unilateral recommendation. Now if that happens the minerals may go out of state and the state, which now only gets paltry royalty due to central govt. craziness of having  very low royalty rates, will lose out on development associated with value addition(like making steel). Value addition leads to infrastructure developments such as roads, railways, ports, townships, etc. So unless Orissa pays attention and follows through on its policy of only recommending mines to companies that will do value addition, and helping the companies to do the value addition, it will lose out a lot. So Orissa’s focus on the mines, steel and aluminum is not misplaced. However the point about looking at other sectors is a good one.