On the wrong foot: Gujarat may lose footwear institute

The Gujarat government is on the verge of losing a prestigious project in a Footwear Design and Development Institute (FDDI) to be set up by the Union commerce and industry ministry at a cost of Rs 200 crore in Ankleshwar, because of it's unwillingness to provide 15 to 20 acres of land free of cost. The project could be hijacked by Kerala, Maharashtra or Odisha.

Ajay Kumar, secretary of FDDI, has written to Maheshwar Sahu, additional chief secretary, industry and mines department, "In the 12th five year plan, we have proposed to set up four new campuses at Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Punjab and Gujarat. Kerala, Maharashtra and Orissa have been kept on the waiting list." He said that Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and Punjab have allotted land free of cost in prime areas. Further, though Kerala is on the waiting list, the free land has already been allotted by chief minister Oommen Chandy.

"The land, though its cost is only 5 to 7% of the project, being provided free of cost is the only contribution from the state government, whereas the central government invests about Rs 150 to Rs 200 crore in the first phase of development of the campuses," he wrote. Kumar conveyed that the free allotment of land for the FDDI is a pre-condition, failing which the project cannot be taken up. "It is, therefore, reiterated that the state government consider providing the land free of cost to FDDI, failing which we would be constrained to shift the location to the state of Kerala which has already allotted land free of cost," the letter states.

Gujarat Government has reportedly shown unwillingness to provide land free of cost. FDDI is rated among the premier design and management institutions in the world. It is widely-recognized as a centre of excellence.

FDDI was set up in 1986 with an objective to provide human resource and technical services to the industry. In just two decades, it has evolved from being India's premier institute to a notable international training institute. It is among the first institutes in the world to get the prestigious ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certifications.

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