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Odisha top investment destination in India

NEW DELHI: Odisha emerged as the hottestinvestment destination for new projects as investor interest in "prosperous" states such as Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu declined during 2012-13, latest data released by the Reserve Bank of Indiashowed. 

Through a dozen projects funded by bank loans, Odisha managed to get investors to commit to around Rs 53,000 crore investment, a 27% share of all-India investments. In contrast, Maharashtra is expected to get investment of around Rs 21,400 crore in 70 projects, or 10.9% of the pie. Punjab was the other surprise, moving to the third spot with a dozen projects expected to generate investments of over Rs 20,600 crore. 

The numbers aren't good news for the BJP and Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, who are using high economic growth and investment in the western state as a key theme ahead of the 2014 general elections. Similarly, Karnataka, where the principal opposition was in power until recently, has lost sheen amid corruption-related charges. But Andhra Pradesh (Rs 11,000 crore) retained the fourth slot despite the state being hit by Telangana-related protests for the past several months, while Gujarat (Rs 10,600 crore) ranked fifth. 

"Share of Odisha has increased over the years due to its mineral resources. While Gujarat attracted investment proposals mainly in industries like infrastructure, petroleum products, metal and metal products and textiles, project investments in Maharashtra have been across almost all industries with larger share coming from 
infrastructure (mainly power and telecom), transport services, textile and construction," RBI said in its analysis. 

A senior government in the Odisha government told TOI that the bulk of the investments are proposed in coal mining, steel and a few port projects. Analysts warned that not all planned investments fructify. 

At the all-India level, however, the numbers confirmed the go-slow on investments with the number of new investment intentions by 969 companies adding up to Rs 2.6 lakh crore in 2012-13, compared to Rs 2.5 crore by 1,127 companies in the previous year. This means that in terms of the amount involved the increase is barely 5%. Companies have cited lower demand and higher interest rates for slowing down capital expenditure for expansion as well as new projects. 

The numbers also showed a slowdown in the infrastructure sector, both in terms of number of projects sanctioned as well as the amount. The good news was renewed interest in telecom in 2012-13, while sectors such as metals, cement and construction too seem to have fared better. 

The central bank predicted subdued investor sentiment during the current financial year as well, as demand remains weak and inflation is expected to inhibit significant reduction in interest rates. "While the government has initiated some steps in the recent past to improve investment climate, results are yet to be visible," it added. 

RBI's annual compilation is based on data collated from banks and financial institutions that finance the projects, foreign borrowings as well as fund-raising from the stock market. The data on states is, however, based on funding provided by banks and FIs.