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Shanghaied by Singur

West Bengal is no Las Vegas. But then, even Las Vegas was not always Las Vegas. (Prior to becoming a casino resort, it was an expanse of Nevada desert.)

india Updated: Sep 11, 2008 21:42 IST

West Bengal is no Las Vegas. But then, even Las Vegas was not always Las Vegas. (Prior to becoming a casino resort, it was an expanse of Nevada desert.) In the continuing soap opera titled, ‘Tata, Singur, Buddha and that Woman’, the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) has ‘quietly’ put up details of the agreement between Tata Motors Limited and the state government regarding the Tata Nano project.

When it comes to West Bengal wooing industry, the state has a whole lot of wooing — even seducing — that is required.

After all, it isn’t quite Gujarat where the message for lined-up investors is ‘Don’t get back to us, we’ll get back to you’. In Bengal, it’s ‘Please sir, please get back to us. Shall we come over?’ So even as the WBIDC site tells us that the Tatas ‘bought’ the Singur deal after being flashed the neon lights and discount coupons of 100 per cent exemption from excise duty for a decade, total waiving of corporate IT for five years, electricity at Rs 3 per kilo-watt-hour, 645.67 acres of land on a 90-year lease at chickenfeed rent.... West Bengal still poses a risk for investors and industries.

Our question is: why did a smart guy like Ratan Tata fall for the buzzing lights in a desert?