Invest in wasteland, Japan urged
By Our Special Correspondent
CHENNAI April 28. The Tamil Nadu Finance Minister, C. Ponnaiyan, today invited huge investments from Japan in the vast tracts of wasteland in the State for starting agro-projects with assured market.
About 50 lakh hectares of fallow land was recently thrown open to the private sector and land ceiling laws would be relaxed paving the way for mutually beneficial investments, the Minister said.
He was addressing a function got up here by the Indo-Japan Centre, Chennai, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
Biofuel such as ethanol could be produced from sugarcane, sugar beet and tapioca on the fallow land; food processing units too could be started providing rural employment.
Tamil Nadu, which accounted for the largest number of engineering colleges in the country — as many as 272 — had a large number of qualified engineers whom the Japanese industries could make use of, the Minister said.
The Consul-General of Japan, Masayuki Makiya, complimented India's ``cultural and spiritual richness'', but it should not ``shy away'' from bringing in political and economic reforms across the world.
Lauding India's democratic experience, he said Japan and India, along with other democratic nations, should promote democracy in modern world, he said.
Regaling the gathering with a brief speech in Tamil, the president of the Japanese Association in Chennai, M. Fukui, said India even now was only a ``huge investment potential'' and not as yet a major investment destination due to various adverse factors such as high power tariff, unstable water and power supply and high income tax for expatriates.
But Tamil Nadu was one of the best States in India and its efforts at bringing in multinationals such as Saint Gobain, Ford and Hyundai, besides opening the TIDEL Park, were laudable, he said. There were 120 Japanese living in the State which had 24 Japanese industrial units. While about 24,000 Japanese had moved to Singapore, in India there were only 2000, he pointed out.
Highlighting the cultural and literary similarities between Tamil and Japanese, the Madras University Vice-Chancellor, Pon. Kothandaraman, said that in Japan too a harvest festival resembling Pongal was celebrated. And, during the festivities, the Japanese shouted ``Hongara Honga'' resembling the Tamil slogan of ``Pongalo Pongal''.
The Frontline Editor, N. Ram, hailed the ``generous assistance'' by Japan to India for development projects, which helped other developed countries to adopt a positive attitude towards India.
The Polaris Software Lab chairman and managing director, Arun Jain, suggested a student exchange programme between the two countries to enable them to work in each other's software companies.
The Indo-Japan Centre, Chennai president, R. Veeramani, welcomed the gathering
Soil, water conservation drive from May 1
PUNE: Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh on Sunday announced that an ambitious soil and watershed development plan under Mahatma Jyotiba Phule Soil and Water Conservation Drive will be undertaken in the state from May 1.
Addressing a state-level workshop organised by the water conservation department of Pune, Deshmukh said the aim of the drive was to increase the water table.
To make optitimum use of irrigation, it was neceesary to undertake soil and water conservation measures which will not only increase the fertility of the soil but also increase the agricultural output, he said.
Noted social worker Anna Hazare, environmentalist Mohan Dharia, minister for water conservation Shivajirao Moghe, rural development minister R R Patil, minister for employment guarantee scheme Ganpatrao Deshmukh and others were also present.
Earlier, Deshmukh presided over a function organised by the Varunraj Bhide Memorial Award Committee wherein he presented the Varunraj Bhide award to senior journalist from Sakal Rajeev Sabade.
The chief minister also announced a grant of Rs 5 lakh to the committee for encouraging budding journalists.
Forest area fenced to check destruction
TIMES NEWS NETWORK
MADIKERI: The Social Forestry has fenced 60 acres of forest area around Pumpkere here to protect the rich ecology and safeguard the water resources.
The department has already installed concrete poles with barbed wires at an estimated cost of Rs 4.50 lakh.
The fencing will help protect the smuggling of rich forest wealth and firewood from the region by the people residing in the adjacent areas. The fencing of the region will help prevent pollution of water near Pumpkere, an official of Social Forestry said.
The officer of Social Forestry has confirmed that the maintenance of the Pumpkere has been given to the forest department from Madikeri Town Municipal Council due to unabated destruction of forest wealth in the region. ``The fencing of the area will surely curb the destruction,'' he asserted.
He added that the department would incur an expenditure of Rs 200 per concrete pole and the department needs at least 600 to 700 poles to fence the entire region.