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Consolation prize after Vedanta-Foxconn deal loss? Modi ‘promises Maharashtra even better project’ – ThePrint

Mumbai: As consolation for having lost a multi-crore investment opportunity in the form of a $22 billion Vedanta-Foxconn semiconductor plant, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has “promised” Maharashtra an “equally strong or even better investment”. 

Addressing a press conference at Mantralaya (Maharashtra government headquarters) in Mumbai, state industries minister Uday Samant said Modi had made the promise to Chief Minister Eknath Shinde over the phone Tuesday.

“Just yesterday, the CM spoke to the PM over the phone and discussed this project. The PM also said that perhaps this situation arose because the industrialist did not get the expected response over the past few months,” Samant said.

He added that the prime minister had “promised the people of Maharashtra that, in the coming few days, an equally strong or even better investment will come to Maharashtra…the PM is someone who sticks to his word”.

Samant also said that Maharashtra’s incentive package of Rs 38,831 crore for the Vedanta-Foxconn venture, cleared by the Shinde-led government in July, had been “superior” to proposals by other states.

Apart from a capital subsidy of up to 30 per cent for setting up the plant at Talegaon industrial area, the offer also included a power tariff subsidy of Rs 1 per unit, among other incentives.

The state government will discuss with Indian mining conglomerate Vedanta Group, and Taiwanese manufacturing giant Foxconn why they nevertheless chose Gujarat, Samant told reporters Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Vedanta-Foxconn signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Gujarat government for a 1.5 lakh crore joint venture to set up a semiconductor manufacturing and display fabrication plant. 

The agreement came as a setback for the Maharashtra government, which had been lobbying for the Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd — known by its trade name, Foxconn —  plant for seven years. 

Further, the MoU triggered a political blame game between the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance comprising the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress, and the incumbent government of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Eknath Shinde-led faction of the Sena.

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‘MVA did not finalise package’

Slamming the Shinde-led government for letting the multi-crore investment slip away, Shiv Sena MLA Aaditya Thackeray claimed that the former MVA administration had finalised 95 per cent of the deal, and only paperwork was left to be finalised.

However, Samant told reporters that the former Uddhav Thackeray-led government did not formally, on paper, grant any incentive package to the Vedanta-Foxconn joint venture. 

“On 5 January 2022, they [Vedanta-Foxconn] sent a letter to the Centre with a copy to the state [Maharashtra] saying we want to set up this investment and are looking at four states, including Maharashtra, and asked what package will you give us. 

“The people who are criticising us had six months to finalise things,” Samant said, defending CM Shinde who assumed office on 30 June.

Samant further added that “there were only meetings [between government officials and Vedanta-Foxconn] in these six months, here and outside the country”.

“But these people were working with the assumption that this company is not going to come to Maharashtra,” he said, taking aim at the MVA coalition.

Samant also said that after taking charge as chief minister, Shinde had directed industries department officials to offer the best package possible, adding that Deputy CM Devendra Fadnavis, too, met with Anil Agarwal, chairman of Vedanta Resources, to reiterate Maharashtra’s commitment to the project.

“On this, he [Fadnavis] was told if you want that, till date you have not given us an incentive package, till date you haven’t finalised an MoU. There have only been discussions,” Samant said.

He added that it was after this meeting that a high-power committee of the state government met on 15 July 15 and formally announced a Rs 38,831 crore package for Vedanta-Foxconn with concessions on land, electricity, water, etc.

“They had given us a letter saying they are interested, and just eight days ago, the industries department had sent them a letter about going ahead with the project in Maharashtra,” said Samant.

(Edited by Amrtansh Arora)

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