The State government is setting up 10 industrial nodes along the under-construction Mumbai-Nagpur super expressway to promote decentralisation of industries in Maharashtra, said Industries Minister Subhash Desai on Thursday.

Speaking to The Hindu, Mr. Desai said the State has also prepared a proposal for medium, small and micro enterprises (MSMEs) under which actual financial help will be provided to the owners, unlike the loans offered by the Centre.

The minister said that the State is not going to change the existing labour laws, but can consider giving certain concessions for new investments, if asked for.

Mr. Desai said since the State government is constantly in dialogue with the industries, there are no complaints about the labour laws and hence there is no question of changing them. “Had labour laws been unreasonable, industries would not have grown so much in Maharashtra. Yes, they do want certain concessions. If new foreign investors speak to us about their need of particular concessions, then we are open to discussions,” he said.

Mumbai-Nagpur corridor

The 700-km-long expressway from Mumbai to Nagpur will pass through 10 districts and indirectly provide connectivity to 14 others. “We have decided to develop one industrial node in each district along the road. This node could be the centre of industrial activities in that particular district due to the connectivity, and availability of land,” Mr. Desai said.

The idea of decentralisation of businesses is being discussed at different levels of the government as business activities in Mumbai and Pune have come to a standstill due to COVID-19.

The minister said the Industries Department has prepared a proposal for the MSMEs and it will be presented before the State Cabinet for approval. “In view of the lockdown, the owners had to pay workers for two months, besides the water and power bills, when their businesses were closed. We are not working to make loans available to them, instead we want to provide them with direct aid,” he said.

The Shiv Sena leader also said none of the big industries have sought assistance from the government yet, but have recommended that smaller businesses dependent on them be helped.

Labour bureau

The Industries Department is also coming up with a web portal of the labour bureau, he said, where unemployed youth can register as unskilled, semi-skilled, and skilled.

“Those in need of skills will be provided training by the department. Companies will get a pool of talent from this bureau based on skills and education,” he said, adding that locals will benefit from it.

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