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Morung Express News
Nearly three years have passed since the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) was proposed to be set up at Ganeshnagar under Dhansiripar sub-division in Dimapur. The Government of Nagaland had big plans to rope in not only domestic, but foreign investors in the agro and food processing sector. Notably, this was one of the biggest projects in Nagaland launched with much hype.

Spread over 125 acres of land, the government proposed to convert the existing Export Promotion Industrial Park (EPPI) into a SEZ to be promoted by the Nagaland Industrial Development Corporation (NIDC).   The first in the north east, the SEZ was set up exclusively for the agro and food processing sector. The arrangement was to absorb surplus agricultural products which were presently unused. Pineapples, passion fruits, bamboo shoot, medicinal plants and aromatic herbs, including lemon grass and Aloe Vera, were some of the products being considered for the proposal. 
South Korea-based company Cona International Limited was the first to show interest. The Government of Nagaland signed two MoUs with the company- one with the Department of Industries and Commerce and the other with the NIDC.

Officials from Cona International had disclosed that the joint venture was likely to start functioning with the construction of modern storage facilities to assist ginger farmers of Nagaland with scientific technology, low cost storage technology and contract strategies to procure the produce after harvest. It raised hopes for thousands of ginger farmers in the State. The arrangement with the Korean firm, however, did not work out. 
Parliamentary Secretary for Industries and Commerce, Dr. Nihoshe Sema said that his department hasn’t heard from the Korean firm after it signed the MoU. This was further confirmed by several department officers who said no progress has been made with the Korean company.

According to NIDC Deputy General Manager Bendang Longkumer, the SEZ has not taken off as desired. Longkumer said that the SEZ was one of the best offerings for Nagaland. And with the Government of India’s focus on the Look East Policy, the Nagaland government was optimistic about it.

The major problem confronting the SEZ is lack of proper power supply, Longkumer said. “For any big industry to run, there needs to be uninterrupted power supply,” he said; adding that unless the power sector improves in Nagaland, industries cannot come up.  
Another underlying issue pointed out by several government officials is the “law and order” problem prevailing in the State. Sources said that the State government has been underplaying the issue but concerns have been raised about security by investors. Moreover, the proximity of the Ganeshnagar to designated camp Hebron is a major impediment, sources added. Government representatives have been attending business summits in India and abroad inviting investors but nothing appears to be working out.

Since the SEZ is agro-based, it is also understood that unless Nagaland’s agro production increases to commercial level, it would be difficult for any company to invest. “Ideally, any company would utilize locally available resources. 
The question is whether we have can meet their demands if they were to invest here,” Longkumer said. The global economic slowdown could also be another factor preventing investors from coming to Nagaland, he added.  
The government has already invested crores of rupees in developing Ganeshnagar. The State government just recently has asked for renewal of the proposal which has already lapsed. How long it will be before anyone shows interest is hard to tell.  Longkumer said that several South Asian countries are showing interest and things might take off in the next few months. “The government is not just waiting for investors… It is also trying to facilitate at every level,” he said.