A G Pai: Driven by Mantra of Development

October 3, 2009

His name is synonymous with Mangalore Special Economic Zone Limited (MSEZ). As the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of MSEZL he has been the target of anger, flak and mud-slinging from all quarters though he is just implementing a Government project strictly adhering to rules and regulations.   Alike-Gurupur Gopalakrishna Pai is the man at the helm shouldering the onerous responsibility of implementing the project and all the associated work that comes in its implementation.

A graduate in Chemical Engineering from National Institute of Technology A G Pai has 26 years of working experience having worked in various capacities in MCF, Zuari Agro Chemicals, Goa, and Mangalore Refinery & Petrochemicals Limited (MRPL) before he was deputed to MSEZ as Chief Operating Officer in 2006.  He is also trained in various countries like UK, USA, France, Germany, Malaysia etc., which keeps him in good stead in carrying out his duties with élan.  He has a keen sense of humour which he uses as an antidote to ward of stress that comes with the present responsibility. 

In a free wheeling chat with Florine Roche, A G Pai clears all controversies and misconceptions surrounding MSEZ and also his vision for the area development of this region resulting in ample employment opportunities to the people of this district. 

You say you are concerned about the area development of this region.  Can you  elaborate on this aspect?

Any development activity as long as it does not bring laurels to people of that Area, is of no avail. Through investments and development of industrial infrastructure such as road development, port facilities, development of railway connectivity, water supply, development of clean power (taking care of environmental aspects leading to sustainable development) opens up floodgates of employment opportunities for the people of the district.  Investment Infrastructure and Capital Investments are interrelated.  The basic investment required for developing Industrial Infrastructure will be provided by MSEZL.

This Industrial Infrastructure development would result in attracting large scale investments both foreign and Indian other than the Rs.25,000 crore investment by ONGC and group companies.  All this would result in generating the much needed employment opportunities for the people of this region.  The wholesome development of the people and of the region is what I term as area development.  

You are basically trained in Chemical Engineering.  How come you have chosen a field that has got a lot to do with human resource development? 
Whatever course of career one takes ultimately has to manifest itself in the development of the people and the area.  When I saw a visionary like the formerChairman of ONGC, Subir Raha, who is not from Mangalore, evincing enormous interest in the development of this region, being a local person I was naturally driven by a sense of motivation to do something for the area development.  I did not want to restrict myself to the limited cause of Chemical Engineering. Every human being needs some impetus and I derived it from this visionary, which was the guiding force of my decision.

You say this is the only Multi Product & Government sponsored SEZ coming up in the entire state of Karnataka.  Why Mangalore was chosen for setting up this  SEZ ?

Mangalore has a maritime port which is not utilized to its fullest capacity.  Three National Highways pass through the district providing good road connectivity to the district.  Mangalore also has intense Railway connectivity and air connectivity now that the airport has been upgraded into an international airport status. World class financial institutions, high degree of literacy and ample water availability due to high rainfall are other reasons. The initiative for setting up the SEZ was first mooted by the local Kanara Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Mangalore and we just joined hands with them in their endeavour.   

What is the present status of MSEZ?
Master plan of phase I is nearing completion.  We have taken up Rs. 53 crore worth pipeline work between STP Kavoor and SEZ.  Work of developing the green belt has also been taken up by planting about 42,000 trees which have been germinated  and grown up.  A total of 2,70,000 trees have to be planned, the work of which will be taken up in a phased manner within the next four years.  Electrical sub station work of the project will also commence shortly.  Site grading, storm water drains, underground drainage, sewers and corridor cum road connectivity engineering work is completed and tenders are getting ready.  MRPL phase III is coming up at Rs.12,400 crore investment and equipments worth more than 50% of the above investment, are already ordered.  The inflow of this equipment will commence from March 2010.  OMPL project of Rs. 6500 crores is in tendering stage and Indian Strategic Petroleum Reserves Limited (ISPRL) has already commenced construction activity for underground crude storage.   
How much land has been acquired for the project so far?
MSEZ is coming up in 3985 acres of land and 2250 acres (including colony land) has been acquired so far.  Out of this 250 acres is set aside for the R & R Colony which is coming up with all modern amenities.  As for the land for the second phase of the project we are happy that people are coming forward voluntarily and have offered more than 1000 acres of land.  Joint Measurement Certification (JMC) has been completed in 850 acres. We are not having any problem for land acquisition.  People are coming one by one offering their land and with the involvement of Pragathipara Krishikara Hitharakshana Vedike, which is finalizing the acquisition of land.  We are in advanced stage on the rate fixation which is expected to be completed very shortly. 
There have been allegations that land for the project is being acquired forcibly?  
The people of this district are highly literate and knowledgeable.  We cannot force   people to part with their land at least in a highly educated district like ours.  This is a Government project  and we have to go according to set rules and regulations. Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB), a state government body,  is acquiring the land based on clearance from state ministry.  If we were to forcibly grab the land there was no need for us to wait for two years. We are going a ahead by taking people into confidence and only by consent. 

What about the legality of the land acquisition in Kudubi Padavu?
In survey number 32 in Permude Village land measuring 14.43 acres which is part of Greater land of 2035 acres under acquisition (process delayed to unnecessary interference of unrelated people) is legally acquired and rehabilitation of several temples, nagabanas and related families is a process completed.  In order to trouble the project displaces families (PDF’s) in 14.43 acres intruders who are basically stark outsiders have colluded with two out of the 40 families in about 2.5 acres of land and are preventing road connectivity to 14.43 acres colony.  The 2.5 acres of land is under acquisition for road connectivity.  Only after the acquisition of land, MSEZL will establish the road connectivity in this area.  
There is a Sathya Shodhana (fact finding committee) Samiti to look into the so called illegalities involved in land acquisition for 14.43 acres Colony? 

We don’t know who is behind this Committee as we are not informed about this.   If there are doubts, anyone can come to us and seek clarification on all issues.  

There are conflicting reports about MSEZL from politicians, elected representatives and from various NGO’s.  Some religious leaders have been expressing opposition to phase II of the project…
The state government is a partner for building the only multi product SEZ coming up in Karnataka. Also this in my opinion, is the only large scale Industrial Investment in the State.  We have read in newspapers regarding various statements from various channels, which has created confusion in public mind.  As long as land owners are ready to part with the land and be a part of this project of national importance and the green signal from the State Government is there, the project will make progress.  MSEZL respects all religious leaders but requests them not to be misled by the malicious propaganda carried out by opponents of development and those having vested interests.  

Is it true that Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh is going to inaugurate MSEZL in November? 
The Union Law Minister has openly stated recently that Dr Manmohan Singh will
inaugurate MSEZL along with the inauguration of the new Airport Terminal at Bajpe  scheduled for November this year.        

How important is the acquisition of land for the II phase? 

Both phase I and phase II of the project are very important for the over all development of our region. Therefore acquisition of the remaining acres of land has become imperative to make MSEZL a reality and to open up the floodgates of employment to the people of this district when it becomes operational. In fact, phase II generates far more employment than phase I of the project.     
Is the Benkinatheshwara temple issue resolved once and for all?
Benkinatheshwara issue is amicably resolved. We have provided a 12 meter approach road to the temple.   The owner of the Guthinamane has agreed to shift his house, the construction of which has already begun. A separate 4 acre colony is also provided to the families of those related to the temple.
You have been the object of anger and flak from various quarters directed towards you. How do you react to this?
The initial hiccups will always be there.  Several personal attacks were made on
me without any basis.   However, recently the situation has changed for the better.   I feel we have been   able to convince the people of this region that all our efforts are towards better future for the people of this district through the mantra called Development, which is inevitable.      

Finally what would you like to say to the opponents of the project?     

Constructive criticism is welcome and we will do everything in our capacity to set

Right and convince.  However, opposing just for the sake of opposing will not yield any results. I also request them to refrain from resorting to character assassination by making personal attacks, at least in future.  MSEZL has been built on firm footings of transparency and we have nothing to fear.    

Also see:

by Florine Roche - Daijiworld Media Network
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Comment on this article

  • Raghuram Rao, Karkala

    Fri, Jan 21 2011

    A great guy! unfortunately for him things are not under his control. So whatever he promises he has not been able to keep in the case of MSEZ. If a free hand is given he can be the next Shrinivas Malya of Mangalore

  • santosh, muscat

    Sun, Aug 08 2010

    Dear Pai

    It is the high time to people like you give back to the society some of your wealth you have generated in these years. you are so luky in those days also your family can afford you to send Prestigious colleges like NIT. But for us is still dream to become even engineers in these days despite all the eligibility....I sincerely request you to adopt atleast 2 students from poor family & make them engineers ....I promise u will be remembered for always atleast by 2 persons & ur services in SEZ never guaranty that ppl will remember your contributions for always.....Congrats for ur new job & wish you all the best dear pai

  • P.N.Rao, mangalore

    Mon, Dec 07 2009

    I am with Mr Shankar comment about AGPai as I and mr AG pai joined MCF together.and also worked sevral year in the same group.He was very nice person

  • krismorty, Mumbai

    Thu, Oct 08 2009

    I consider myself extremly lucky to have worked with Shri A G Pai,though for a very brief period. He is an absolute authority in what he speaks,either Chemical Engineering or Vedas or Philosophy or Human resources management.It is very rare to find such a tough task master who has genuine feelings for his subordinates and collegues.His love for this part of Karnataka, his concern for the people and his concern for the fragile environment are uncomparable.He is one man who speaks from his heart with no hidden agendas.I some times feel how such a human being can be misunderstood by his own people.In a matter of time people will know the value of Shri Pai.

  • sudhir urwa, mangalore

    Thu, Oct 08 2009

    nice interview i would appreciate, if there is some more info on the local employment improvement due to SEZ, the current vacancies available , so that local engineers can apply. Also , if the phase -1 MRPL project is ordered, let us know the schedule of its completion, along with the contractors name. Also applies to OMPL 6000 cr project. I would apprecaiet if Daijiworld brings out the every fortnight about the developments on SEZ.

  • mohammad hanif, suratkal

    Tue, Oct 06 2009

    mr pai is able person for this project keep it up sir

  • Sudheer, Suratkal

    Tue, Oct 06 2009

    Thank you Daiji for showing charisma of Mr.AGPai to the world. With utmost love towards environment, god and technology there is no doubt he will succeed in his mission. All the best sir.

  • Jerome, Mangalore

    Mon, Oct 05 2009

    I request Mr.Pai and MSEZ to develop a very good green belt inside MSEZ consisting of all endangered species of plants,herbs,medicinal plants,frui bearing plants etc in a big way.

  • Rajesh Rao, Mangalore

    Mon, Oct 05 2009

    Dear Paimam Great. I am proud that another GBS is shining like a star in Managalore's horizon. Keep up the good work. My humble request to you is that, kindly offer the jobs to locals so their migration to other places are minimised. GOD bless you.

  • nannu, Car street

    Sun, Oct 04 2009

    Dear Gopi mam, u r doing lot of good things to poor un employed boys within your limit of power which is not published. All the people of Mangalore should know that he has got great concern about environmental pollution. He has built up green belt in MRPL in such a way that the green house gases balance the environment. It is just not enough to have green belt for the sake of having it. He has seen that max jack fruit and other trees to grow such that it gives max oxygen. His concern about our sea pollution is great. He says how I can allow oil in to sea where Lord Venkataraman takes bath once in a year during samudra pooja. So we can believe this great man in this regard. Guys the MSEZ Gate which is designed is as per Vasthu for development of Mangalore. All the best Gopi mam, Lord Venkataramana and Devi Sharada Matha shower all mighty power to develop Mangalore as you planned.

  • Ronald D, Udupi

    Sun, Oct 04 2009

    thank you Daiji for the reality article. How people tried to play around with such a dedicated and inspiring personality! Comments speak a lot about Mr. pai. He must have faced tough time with people of vested interests, they can not see good anywhere!!

  • vittal Poojary, mangalore

    Sun, Oct 04 2009

    Dear Mr.Pai You are doing a wonderful job,we have to develope our districts by all means wish you good luck

  • narayan prabhu, mangalore

    Sun, Oct 04 2009

    I have known him always as gopi,who started life in a hard way,i can remember when he came to our house way back in the early 70's asking my dad whether we wanted milk delivered.since then we have been in good contact,I am a doctor now living in usa and its been a few years since we have spoken to each other,I would see him bring aarti from venkataramana temple.just goes to see where you can reach if you have determination,i almost did not recognise him without the hair .good luck gopi,you knew me as nanna from car street as ramesh mamas son.

  • Shankar Shetty, Padukudoor / Kuwait

    Sun, Oct 04 2009

    While it is unfair to compare the development of China & India, in view of the fact that China being a dictatorship does not have any of the constraints of democracy like human rights, rule of law as in India. However, nobody can deny the fact development in India has been severely hampered by the astounding level of corruption, shameless partisan politics, vested interests of NGOs, incompetent management, inefficient utilization of resources and total lack of accountability. Twin districts of South Kanara & Mangalore have been lucky with the prevalence of higher level of literacy than most part of the country and an intelligent, resourceful populace. In this back ground I am of the opinion that MSEZ is a very good concept, which if implemented judiciously can lay the foundation for the sustainable development of our twin districts in years to come. Therefore it is imperative that all the stake holders MSEZ including the general public see the larger picture & make this a model project in the larger interest of our region. We have an able & proven leader heading the project & he deserves full co-operation.

  • Jawar D'Souza, M'Lore/Doha

    Sun, Oct 04 2009

    It is really good to see the development's and employment oppurtunities for the youth. Unfortunately our youth are rarely employed in these projects most of the jobs will be taken by outsider's.It should be made cumpulsory to give jobs for the displaced ones. Even if we look at the people displaced from the mangalore harbour no one was given any jobs there. I hope it will not happen again jobs for these people should be passed from father to son so that they may get justice for loosing their anscesteral land Hope Mr Pai will look into this matter, and will not let happen like harbour project.

  • Fernandes Francis , Mangalore/Abudhabi

    Sat, Oct 03 2009

    Mr. Pai , Who being the COO of MSEZ look for better future for our young educated Mangaloreans. We the people of Coastal district being educated are away from our home just to find jobs to feed our families. Hope future gneration and local Mangaloreans will be given first priority in finding employment. There should be a employment scheme to Local first and then preference to outsiders.

  • vishwa, mangalore\usa

    Sat, Oct 03 2009

    Pai mam, I dont know you still remember me or not. But I came to you 10 yars back to get guidance. You word insired me to change my career from sales to R&D. Today I am in USA doing good. thanks for your help. I still remember your simple examples to make understand the things. Some things which is not give here is that he is also hindi and sanskrit visharda. I really trust you and hope mangalore gets good project and employment and along with environmental protction.

  • shankar, kavoor

    Sat, Oct 03 2009

    mr.paimam we still remember you at ammonia plant of mcf ltd.carry on ur work overcoming the adversities.our moral support with you!

  • Sudhir Nayak, Udupi,Riyadh

    Sat, Oct 03 2009

    Mr. Pai is a philanthropist . I worked with him in MRPL for 9 years and his personality is very inspiring. He is very approachable and kind .

  • Anamika, Mangalore

    Sat, Oct 03 2009

    In the name of industrialisation,we are losing paddy fields,open wells and lot of greenery.So I request Mr. Pai to think of green SEZs and agricultural SEZs in addition to the petroleum SEZ to our south kanara district which will bring employment to our village folk.Dear Pai saab,please think on this seriously.

  • Manjeshwar Mohandas Kamath, Manjeshwar-Kuwait

    Sat, Oct 03 2009

    Dear Gopianna, You inspired me lot During my tenure in MRPL project ( Phase I ).Thanks lot " God Bless You "

  • Raphael D'Souza, Pangla,Udupi/London

    Sat, Oct 03 2009

    Dear Mr Pai, I join thousands of Mangaloreans in saluting you for your efforts and determination. My generation of unemployed youths did not leave the district by choice but by necessity due to lack of opportunities in the region. We have many selfish leaders and fake saints who know only to oppose anything that suits to keep them in the limelight. While I thank the Daijiworld for highlighting your visions and plans for our region, it would be good to interview your detractors and so called self proclaimed environmentalist to see what they have done for the community and people of our region. We have many churches, temples and mosques but few saints, many schools, colleges and universities but few industries and many Fernandes, Madvarajs and Acharyas but very few ‘Pai’s. Real leaders are ordinary people with extraordinary determination.

  • Jerome, Mangalore

    Sat, Oct 03 2009

    I use this opportunity to request Mr.Pai and MSEZL to do social services like starting schools,orphant and old age homes ,hospitals etc to benifit the local needy.Also they should concentrate to develop our dakshina kannada youth in constructive activities like self employment like what Dharmastala does.

  • Anamika, Mangalore

    Sat, Oct 03 2009

    Many people do not know about Mr. Pai about his concerns on environmets.I know that he has real concerns and he had put lot of efforts to bring up greenery near MRPL and he has done lot on the effluent treatment.

  • MITHUN BOLOOR, Mangalore/ Dubai

    Fri, Oct 02 2009

    To Mr. A G Pai, Sir, I don't known wether you remember me or not. but i still remember you since your are the one who guided me & filled confidence in me when i lost a job opportunity in MRPL. Sir, because of your blessing & developing a target in me right now I am working in a good position for one of the US base leading company in Dubai. Sir, i am really happy to hear about you and i have lot of confidence on you.

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