West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee— who shot to power by leading political movements against land for industries in Singur and Nandigram — faced the concerns raised by several top corporate honchos on land availability at a meeting here on Monday.
"Several industry leaders raised the land issue in the meeting. It was also pointed out that even highway projects are suffering because the state government is not forthcoming about acquiring land. I think she understood our problems," said Ajit Gulabchand, Managing Director of Hindustan Construction Company.
Naina Lal Kidwai, country head of HSBC India, which has significant presence in Kolkata, told HT after the meeting, "She had a frank discussion on several issues, including land. She clarified that she is opposed to forcible acquisition of land and evicting people. But she also assured us that her government will try to find land for industries."
While most of the industrialists did not commit to any specific investment or new project in the state, Bengal finance minister Amit Mitra later claimed that industrialist Puneet Dalmia of Dalmia Cements has propped to set up a R500-crore factory in Jangalmahal area.
In her first-such interaction with industry brass in the capital, Banerjee was also politely reminded that ample scope remains to change the negative publicity Bengal earned as a hostile destination for industries and corporate houses.
Kidwai, however, felt that Banerjee’s government is trying to reduce the gap in perception to emerge as an industry-friendly state. Gulabchand told HT, "She is very welcoming about new industries. But there is a huge gap between passionate intention and the implementation of policies."