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BENGALURU : The Karnataka government on Tuesday approved ₹3540 crore investmentby Aequs SEZ Private Limited to develop a consumer electronics and durables goods (CEDG) cluster in Hubballi, about 430 kilometers from Bengaluru. The investment was cleared at the State High Level Clearance Committee (SHLCC) chaired by the Karnataka chief minister, B S Yediyurappa. This is India's first sector-specific investment in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led Union government's Atmanirbhar or self- reliance initiative, the state government and Aequs said. The investment is expected to generate around 20,000 jobs and the company has request the Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB) for allotment and acquisition of 400-acre land in Ittigatti Village in Dharwad, a senior government official said requesting anonymity. The proposed industrial unit will comprise warehouse facilities, logistics hub, skill development centre and other support services, according to the proposal. The sealing of the investment in Karnataka comes at a time when the state has been pursuing industries and other corporations to set up shop in the cash-starved southern state and help bring in fresh and much needed capital inflows to help revive its fledgling finances. "CEDG will be globally competitive and a self-sustained ecosystem, generating employment, creating significant opportunities for the region, and nurturing the country's manufacturing potential. This campus will be spread across 400 acres with benefits of Special Economic Zone (SEZ) and Domestic Tariff Area (DTA)," Aravind Melligeri, Chairman & chief executive officer of Aequs Inc said in a statement to Mint. The CEDG expands the Aequs' footprint in Karnataka where it already operates a manufacturing SEZ in Belagavi and also the key stakeholder in developing the toys cluster in Koppal The company has interests in precision engineering, aerospace and allied industries in India, USA and France. Revenue shortfalls due to reduction in goods and services tax (GST) compensation, financial impact due to covid-19 induced lockdown, heavy rain related damages and other factors has added to the distress in Karnataka’s economy. The Karnataka government has proposed to alter labour, land and industrial laws in line with the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled government at the centre to bring in more investors into the country. The SHLCC, held on 30 September, cleared investments six proposals worth ₹15,045 crores that have the potential to create 21028 new jobs, according to officials. The Karnataka government is proactively pursuing investors but has had trouble in translating proposals into actual investments due to unending delays in clearances and hurdles in land acquisition. Delays in ironing out long winding issues on land availability for industries cost Karnataka a chance to convert investments totalling over ₹39,000 crore and a chance to create over 80,000 jobs between 2013 and 2019, state government data shows. Out of the total 142 proposals totalling ₹49379.13 crore, approved between 2013 and 2019 under section 109 of the Karnataka Land Reforms Act for setting up new projects or existing manufacturing units in sectors like automobiles, textiles, mining among others, over 90 of them remain non-starters including 23 that have been dropped completely, according to data provided by the government.

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