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India's 5 investment hotspots
BS Bureau in Mumbai
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September 06, 2005

What do Jamnagar, Hazira, Dahej, Ennore and Paradeep have in common? These are the five new investment hotspots for top bankers.

Some CEOs of commercial banks have been occasionally camping at these places. So have investment bankers and agencies which broker large loan deals.

Both India Inc as well as the country's financial sector are betting big on these five spots. The total investment committed in these areas can be to tune of Rs 100,000 crore (Rs 1,000 billion) over the next two years, says a top executive of a large public sector bank. This executive has been making innumerable trips to these places since the beginning of the current financial year.

Jamnagar in Gujarat is the hottest destination for bankers.

Top Investment Destinations

1. Jamnagar, Gujarat

2. Hazira, Gujarat

3. Dahej, Gujarat

4. Paradeep, Orissa

5. Ennore, Tamil Nadu

Investments here can run into Rs 20,000 crore (Rs 200 billion). Reliance Industries is doubling the capacity of its oil refinery here from 32 million tonne per annum to 64 million tonne per annum and Essar Oil [Get Quote] is setting up a 12 million-tonne-per-annum refinery. Besides, both the groups are setting up ports.

"In anticipation of activities, land prices in Jamnagar are sky-rocketing. You will not get an inch of land in Jamnagar," says the chief financial officer of a manufacturing company. According to the 1991 census, the population of Jamnagar city was 3,26,000.

The Reliance and Essar groups are also active in making fresh investments in Hazira, 15 km from Surat. Reliance, which has its petrochemical facility situated on approximately 1000 acres of land near the banks of the river Tapi, is planning an expansion.

Ditto about Kribhco (Krishak Bharai Cooperative Ltd), a premier cooperative society for manufacturing fertiliser. Both Essar Power and Essar Steel have also committed new investments here. RIL has invested over Rs 15,000 crore (Rs 150 billion) so far in its Hazira facility.

Commercial bankers are also making a beeline for Dahej, another hotspot in Gujarat. Petronet LNG Ltd, a joint venture company promoted by four petroleum sector giants -- GAIL India [Get Quote], Indian Oil [Get Quote], Oil and Natural Gas Commission and Bharat Petroleum -- have already invested close to Rs 5,000 crore (Rs 50 billion) in Dahej for setting up LNG terminals.

Another Rs 5,000 crore investment is on the cards. "We expect to see hectic activities at Dahej as in the future, most power plants will be run by gas," says one bank chief.

Bankers expect massive investment activities also in areas surrounding Paradeep. Apart from South Korean steel major Posco, other prospective investors in this area are the Tatas, the Jindal group and the Essar group. Even Indian Railways are planning to invest at least Rs 2,000 crore (Rs 20 billion) for laying a third line to connect Visakhapatnam with Paradeep.

"The port capacity will be trebled and there will be terminals to stock iron ore. We are very bullish on Paradeep," says a private bank executive, who spent a few days at Paradeep last month.

The fifth and final hotspot is Ennore, which is poised to become the energy hub of Asia. About 24 km north of Chennai, the Ennore Port is the 12th major port of the country and the first major one to be corporatised.

Originally conceived as a satellite port to the Chennai Port, Ennore has become an investment destination with the Tamil Nadu government planning to set up a 1880 MW LNG power project with a private consortium, a petrochemicals park and a naphtha cracker plant. A special economic zone is also being set up here.

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