Chinese projects in Odisha left in limbo amid India-China border tension

Subrat Kumar Sarangi

Bhubaneswar (NVI): Amid the escalating border tensions between India and China after violent Galwan Valley clashes last month, many Chinese projects and investment proposals worth crores of rupees are staring at uncertainty in Odisha.

Following the stand-off between India and China at Galwan Valley in Ladakh, there has been a strong anti-China sentiment and people have been demanding ban and boycott of all Chinese products.

The Centre has already banned 59 Chinese Apps last week. The developments have definitely put a question mark over the investment proposals in Odisha as well as in India, as many tenders offered to Chinese Companies have been canceled.

During September 2019, Odisha Industries Minister had conducted a roadshow in China to attract Chinese Investors and during April 2020, Odisha Single Window Clearance Authority had approved three Chinese companies for investment in the state.

Besides, one Chinese firm- Wuhuan Engineering Company Limited, had secured tender for the total restructuring of Talcher Fertilizers Limited, Odisha at Rs 13,277 crore during September 2019 for which MOU was signed with GAIL India Ltd, Rashtriya CF, Coal India Ltd, FCI.

During December 2019, when coronavirus spread in Wuhan, China, the project got delayed. More importantly, Odisha is the highest exporter of iron ore to China to the tune of 700 crores approximately every month.

Also, the State Level Single Window Clearance Authority had given its nod to the Chinese footwear manufacturing unit, promising employment of people in the state. The said company has two plants in China and Hong Kong. Apart from this investment, SLSWCA had given clearance to three other investments to the tune of around Rs 188 crore.

The authority had also approved two high-value investments for Odisha under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, the future of which seems to be uncertain now.

All these projects will definitely have to wait if the border tensions between India and China are to continue. Meanwhile, Industry experts say that the suspension of projects and investments will affect Odisha too.

At present, the Indian Government is reviewing around 50 investment proposals involving Chinese companies under a new screening policy.

All investments by entities based in neighbouring countries need to be approved by the government, whether for new or additional funding, under new rules announced in April. Notably, China is of the biggest investors in India but the recent escalation in tensions will definitely impact the business prospects between the two countries.

According to reports, the new investment rules were aimed at curbing opportunistic takeovers during the coronavirus outbreak.