MeraNews, Gandhinagar: Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani on Wednesday announced the establishment of 16 new industrial estates as well as a new garments and apparel policy, as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) steps up its campaign ahead of assembly elections expected to be held in December.

The Gujarat government will set up 16 Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation (GIDC) estates in 14 districts of the state for the promotion of small enterprises, at an investment of around Rs15,000 crore, with the aim of providing employment to 40,000 youths, Rupani said.

The Garments and Apparel Policy 2017 is aimed at providing a boost to the industry and creating employment opportunities for women. Rupani, describing his intention of making Gujarat the “Manchester of India” again, said the state can achieve this goal through a “farm to fibre, fibre to fashion, fashion to fabric, and fabric to foreign exports” policy.

To promote employment of women in the garments and apparel segment, the government will provide Rs4,000 per month for a period of five years to women working in factories; men will be paid Rs3,200.

For the development of mega apparel parks, the government will provide 50 percent assistance up to an amount of Rs10 crore and exemption from stamp duty on land.

The chief minister also said he intends to make Gujarat the No.1 state in the garments sector as it produces a large amount of cotton.

The Gujarat government will provide loans of up to Rs7.5 crore at a 5 percent annual rate of interest for five years to small and medium enterprises at the new GIDC estates. In addition, these enterprises will get a reduction of Rs1 per unit on their electricity bills. To establish “plug and play” sheds in the industrial areas, 50 percent assistance in project cost will also be provided.

Other announcements included support for skill development projects: the state will cover 85 percent of the project cost, up to Rs3 crore, for setting up training institutes for workers. The government will also bear 50 percent of the cost of developing basic facilities including plants, machinery and tools at these training centres, up to an amount of Rs20 lakh.

The announcements came a day after Gujarat cut value-added tax (VAT) on petrol and diesel by 4 percent. Maharashtra, ruled by a BJP-led alliance, announced a reduction on VAT on these fuels later in the day.

Chief election commissioner A.K. Joti on Tuesday indicated that elections in the state may be held in December as the term of the Gujarat legislative assembly ends in the third week of January. A team from the Election Commission of India was in Gujarat to assess the state’s poll preparedness.