State Of The Economy 2014

On safer shores

Bharuch is booming on the back of great roads, ports and a powered-up electrical grid

Photographs by Ajit Solanki

Chih-Hsuan Yen has been away from Taiwan for nearly two years, but still takes time to make the mental switch to English. The languages here at Dahej may be very different, but the 37-year-old Yen says there’s not much difference in work style. “Barring the summer heat and the hour-long drive from Bharuch city every morning, working here is much like working at Kaohsiung,” he says. Of course, it helps that he’s still working for a Taiwanese company — steelmaker China Steel Corporation’s India subsidiary — and he has the company of 100 compatriots who have also moved to Gujarat to ensure that commercial production of electrical steel starts at the Dahej plant this July on schedule.

None of the expats has seen much of the country or even the state so far, but that’s because right now, work is on at top speed. This is China Steel’s first project in India, so the bar is set very high. A ₹1,000-crore investment has been committed to produce 200,000 tonne of electrical steel each year. This alloy of iron and silicon is used in the power equipment industry, which includes compressors, electric motors, transformers and generators. There are 600 people employed at the Dahej facility, all putting in at least eight hours a day six days a week. So far, China Steel has acquired 50 hectares and made significant investment in the sector. “We are the first Taiwanese company in Gujarat and it has been an interesting experience for me,” Yen says with a smile.

Anywhere else, China Steel’s investment would be considered significant. At Dahej, in Bharuch industrial district, it pales in comparison with what Indian companies are investing — ONGC Petro is putting in ₹25,000 crore for a dual-feed cracker unit while IPCL has proposed a ₹10,000-crore investment for anew super specialty chemicals unit. Big Indian companies such as Reliance, Welspun and Adani Petronet have

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