Although industrialists want to invest in the state, they have largely been deterred thanks to the state government’s policy against acquiring land on their behalf. “The state doesn’t need big industrialists who will set up their industries by capturing fertile land and evicting people,” said state water resources minister Soumen Mahapatra, echoing Mamata Banerjee and Partha Chatterjee, at the inauguration of a cement factory in Lodhashuli in Jhargram, West Midnapore, on Tuesday.
“I want the plant to grow and work with the people,” said industries minister Partha Chatterjee, via text message. He was unable to make it to the inauguration due to a meeting at Town Hall in Kolkata.
Soumen Mahapatra inaugurated the Roofers Group’s cement plant at Khasjangal in Lodhashuli. “There are many problems in the area, and the previous government did not take steps to solve them. But our chief minister has a vision for the development of the entire area, and it includes industries as well,” said Mahapatra, adding, “There are vast tracts of barren land in the area, near the Jharkhand border, and we appealed to industrialists to set up their factories in the region and our government will help them.”
The water resources and development minister talked about the numbers of industrialists from outside the state who has expressed interest in the state. “We already received proposals worth R80,000 in investments in various sectors. We are looking to ensure that investors are not harassed. As our government has said, industry and agriculture will work side-by-side, and we will not support industry in fertile, agricultural land. But we will entertain those who would like to set up their industries on barren areas, like the Roofers Group cement factory in Lodhashuli,” Mahapatra said.
The current plant has been renovated by the Roofers Group, and is not a new factory. Nabab India Pvt Ltd has constructed the plant as Khasjangal in 2006, and the Roofers Group took over the 14-acre area, investing about R100 crore on the project.
“We have businesses in reality estate, infrastructure and hotels, and it is our first cement plant. In the future we hope to bring more industries and units to Jangalmahal. We had decided to invest in the area after the call from the government,” said Anjan Banerjee, president, Roofers Group.
Some people, like Nityananda Mahato, Ajit Mahato and Noor Mohammad had claimed that they had given their land in 2006 and were promised jobs in the factory. However, nothing ever materialised.
“We are happy that now a new concern had opened the plant and we request them to absorb employees from families who gave up land for the factory,” they said.