The Tata small car project at Singur holds the key to an estimated Rs 50,000 crore investment into West Bengal, said the state's industries minister Nirupam Sen on Monday.
Sen maintained that West Bengal would get substantial investment within a year of the small car project starting off. But he agreed that the local opposition to the project would have to end first.
Criticising those opposed to the industrialisation of the state, Sen said those opposing the project had simply refused to listen to the appeal of chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya.
“I did not expect that a manufacturing unit would be opposed by opposition parties. Earlier we used to be attacked by the same people who said that despite being in power for 30 years, we have failed to attract a single automobile manufacturer,” said Sen.
He explained that the state government had managed to bring Tata Motors to West Bengal when the Tatas had almost decided to set up the plant at Uttrakhand due to fiscal sops the state offered.
“We managed to match them. I cannot divulge the financial details,” said Sen and added, “I have taken a calculated risk.” He said the officers in his ministry worked hard for six months with the Tata Motors management to hammer out a mutually acceptable agreement.
Sen also pointed that the state government has already tied up an investment of about Rs 2,000—Rs 5,000 crore for 2007-08, which is about Rs 3,000 crore more than last year. Further, a number of new ventures are in pipeline that amount to more than Rs 50,000 crore. This is in addition to the total investment of Rs 50,000 crore spread across various industries that have started production, he said.
When quizzed about the steps taken by the government to improve the investment climate and promote industrialisation following the strong opposition, in Nandigram and Singur, Sen said that the thrust is to build the consensus from the lowest level.
“We have asked the District Magistrates to engage people from the lowest level of the administration to build a consensus on industrialisation,” said Sen.