Work at the small car project of Tata Motors at Singur in West Bengal is not affected by the agitation in Nandigram but hampered by monsoon and floods, Ratan Tata, Chairman of the Tata Group said here.
Asked whether the current Nandigram violence had affected the project, Tata told PTI that the "project is going ahead as per schedule but currently monsoon and floods have affected it".
Earlier last night, delivering a Nehru Memorial Lecture and answering questions at the Chatham House, a Think Tank, Tata said "please disassociate Tatas from Nandigram.
"We are not in Nandigram. We are in a place called Singur. The two places are contiguous to each other." "Nandigram and Singur are issues of political conflict between two political parties," he said without elaborating. Asked what prompted him to locate the Rs 1,000 crore project in West Bengal, Tata said the group went to the state "because we believe that despite it being a communist state, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee is one of the most upright leaders and one of the most deserving of investment".
"We thought that once the small car project comes up and there is visibility, it would have started a wave of jobs in that part of the country which is ignored till today."
Kamalesh Sharma, India's High Commissioner to the UK and Commonwealth Secretary General-elect, Asoke Mukerji, Deputy High Commissioner, Lord Karan Billimoria, NRI entrepreneur and Raj Loomba, Lord Brabourne were among those present at the lecture.
Tata said " if India is to live up to the dreams of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, it must have an open economy which is market driven."
Asked what were the criteria needed to make the country develop faster, he said, "we need to ensure that no one is above law, there is equal opportunity for all and merit is the main criteria."
Tata appreciated and praised the success achieved by NRIs including Lakshmi Mittal, Lord Swraj Paul, both in steel sector and Lord Karan Billimoria, who founded the Cobra Beer.
Tata was bullish on India's prospects, saying the country is "attracting a different kind of attention because of its 9.2 per cent growth, 350 million consumer market more than the USA which is expected to grow to over 500 million by 2011".
By 2020, India will have the largest working-age population, he said. Tata, however, cautioned that the growth of future enterprise could be thwarted by "powerful vested interests."
Answering a question, Tata said opposition to the entry of Walmart and TESCO in India would wither away in due course. "There are vested interests and self interested groups which make it difficult. I hope they will disappear in course of time."
He said current Indian entrepreneurs were much more confident. "They are more outward looking than inward looking," he said.
Replying to another question, Tata said he found it easier to operate outside India. He was particularly appreciative of the total non-interference by the British government in his effort to acquire Britain-based companies.
"We have had no opposition, except from the unions who apprehended loss of jobs which we allayed."