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‘Semicon plant in India to create next Silicon Valley’

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BENGALURU: Anil Agarwal, chairman of Vedanta Group, was in Bengaluru on Friday to meet Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai.A major discussion was presumably on Vedanta and Taiwanese chip giant Foxconn’s plan, announced in February, to invest in a $20-billion chop and display glass facility in India. In an exclusive interaction with TOI prior to the CM’s meet, Agarwal provided some indication of what he would discuss.
There was news you might finalise a chip manufacturing site in India soon. What’s the progress?
My biggest priority is that India must reduce its imports. India imports 94% of electronics. The basic raw material for this is semiconductor and display glass. Both we import, spending about $16 billion. We (Vedanta) are in the glass business, we make optical fibre. We also make display glass in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, we are the fourth largest in the world. So, it was natural that everybody wanted to be our partner in semiconductor manufacturing. We chose Foxconn because it’s a $200-billion company.
We are on a very fast track – first is to identify the location. We have an independent committee that is going to all the states. We need to be in close proximity to universities, infra, water. This is like creating yet another Silicon Valley – it will be a cluster. A lot of companies will come up around the plant that will use our semiconductor and glass, because they will be so much cheaper than importing. So, states must have the vision that it won’t be just a chip plant, that it will be a 20-year plan. The project is about $20 billion, but we will start with $10 billion to make the display glass and the semiconductor, both in the same location. At the end of the month, we will pin down the location. We’re just waiting for the report to come.
Vedanta and Foxconn representatives met the Maharashtra govt recently…
Karnataka is favourably positioned. But they have not come out with a policy, like Maharashtra government has. What’s the subsidy, what is the location, what is the water position. Karnataka is very eager, but we are waiting for the policy. Governments get scared because subsidies are large. They wonder whether they have the resources or not. But trust me, they will get 10 times the return. And they should be clear with the Cabinet approval, cannot change the policy when the next government comes. People don’t want to go to Andhra because they change their policy.
How much subsidy are you looking at?
Around 60% (of total cost). Some are coming from the Centre and some from the state. Taiwan provided 90% subsidy, today everybody – US, China – wants to take over Taiwan only because they have semiconductors. I have no doubt India will be in position to get there. But everybody has to be together, focus on one thing, get the right people in place. It’s also very important to be in proximity to universities. Because so much research is required in this business.

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