West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee has vowed to create one crore job opportunities through promotion of small-scale industries - a figure that is many times more than the registered unemployed in the state, which stands at less than 2.5 lakh.
Speaking at the inauguration event of Dhunseri group’s new petrochemicals unit at Haldia, the chief minister spun off her employment generation dreams along with that of building two deep-sea ports in the state.
The Left Front government, she said, kept grappling with the centre for years for getting just one off the ground. “I don’t think big industries are the only way. Medium and small-scale industries too, can contribute a lot. Personally, I prefer small scale industries and Bengal has immense potential in this sector,” chief minister said, giving a fair glimpse to the attendant numbers into her rarely articulated industrial policy.
“We will generate crore jobs through small-scale industries. We will create many small clusters and would connect those with the foreign market,” she said on Tuesday.
Later, addressing a public meeting at Nimtouri near Tamluk, she dwelt at length about her ideas on employment generation. “There are one crore unemployed in the state and it will take a long time to employ all of them. Hence, we are trying various ways.”
“I had a target of providing employment to 10 lakh people in five years. I have provided employment to six lakh, but more needs to be done as there are close to one crore unemployed in the state,” chief minister said on July 26 while launching flagship schemes for the unemployed.
The number of registered unemployed in Bengal was 2.83 lakh in 2010 and dropped to 2.20 lakh in 2011. Laying out her pledge to build two deep sea ports in the state, the chief minister said, “Land has already been earmarked for two deep sea ports at Rosulpur in East Midnapore district and the Sunderbans. The formal declaration may happen any day,” the chief minister said.
Mamata ups anti-FDI rhetoric
Lending her crusade against FDI in retail a new twist, Mamata warned farmers that multinational firms would practice contract farming and end up grabbing their land.
At a rally, she also slammed the idea of foreign investment in pension funds and said she would hit the streets against hike in fertiliser price before Durga Puja (October 21-24).
“There was one GATT treaty and now here are these reforms. I tell you, we all should be aware of the dangers of FDI in retail. It will not only affect the retail businessmen and the self-help groups but will also ruin farmers,” Mamata said, adding, “Even America gives more protection to their local market.”
Then, for the first time hinting at her opposition to contract farming, though without naming it, she said, “They would make direct contracts with you and would pay you hefty for first two years. But then you will find they have destroyed your land. They will grab all your land.”
She argued that farmers needed to resist any such attempt at the very beginning.
According to senior leaders of the Trinamool Congress, Mamata upped the ante over FDI in retail, as the panchayat elections are unlikely to be held before May, though she wanted to hold it sometime in January. This offers the Trinamool leader time to focus on her agitation against UPA II government.
At the Tamluk rally, about 100 km to the south of Kolkata, Banerjee spent little venom on the Left Front, her prime ‘enemy’ and her principal opponent in the panchayat polls.