While the first industrial park in Supa came up in 1978, the MIDC developed a new park in the village to attract new investment.
In 2015, it was projected as a showcase project to promote the ‘Make in India’ campaign. Four years later, the Japanese industrial park set up by the state-run Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) at Supa in Ahmednagar’s Parner taluka is yet to find a single investor.
While the first industrial park in Supa came up in 1978, the MIDC developed a new park in the village to attract new investment. In 2013, when the Congress was in power in the state, a memorandum of cooperation was inked between the state government and Japanese External Trade Organisation (JETRO) — the country’s official promotion body for trade and investment — to set up an exclusive industrial park for Japanese firms on 230-hectare inside the park.
The big push to the initiative, however, came after the BJP came to power in Maharashtra. In August 2015, when Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis visited Japan, both sides had projected the collaboration in a big way. But MIDC officials confirmed that while 27 Japanese firms had initially evinced interest in establishing their base here, none has invested so far.
If senior sources in the MIDC are to be believed, excessive interference of local politicians and their attempt to corner labour and workforce contracts is one reason why investors have stayed away. A senior official also revealed that JETRO had even approached the chief minister in this regard.
With the Opposition raking up factory shutdowns and unemployment ahead of the Assembly elections, jobs are a major poll plank in Ahmednagar’s drought-prone Parner assembly constituency that will see a direct contest between sitting MLA Vijay Auti of the Shiv Sena and NCP’s Nilesh Lanke. When contacted, both Auti and Lanke said that training the local manpower and securing jobs for the unemployed educated youth will be their priority if voted to power.
Auti, who is also the Deputy Speaker in the state Legislative Assembly, has won three elections in a row from the constituency, and goes into the 2019 election as a favourite. Lanke, who was one of Auti’s campaign managers in the previous three elections, is a die-hard follower of Shiv Sena supremo (late) Bal Thackeray and had walked over to the NCP some months ago after a fallout with Auti.
While Auti supporters say the Sena leader has carried out a lot of development in the water-scarce belt, some local observers say his “overbearing” style of functioning has led to some discontent against him.
Lanke, who runs a charity trust that organises jobs melas, meanwhile enjoys clout among the youngsters in the constituency. But observers say his lack of experience in contesting a state poll and Shiv Sena’s grassroot network in the locality give Auti an upper hand.
BJP minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil also holds some clout in the region. His son, Sujay, is the constituency’s MP.
Besides jobs, water supply and irrigation are other issues that have dominated the election campaign here.
Interestingly, Parner is also known as the “taluka of teachers”. More than 10,000 teachers working in state-run and aided institutions are natives of the taluka. Raosaheb Rohokale, a former president of Maharashtra Prathamik Shikshan Parishad, said, “Since perennial water scarcity and recurrent drought have affected farming in the region, teaching has become the preferred choice of employment.”
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