Less than 24 hours after Infosys co chairman S Gopalakrishnan put the onus on the state for acquiring land for industry and demanded a close substitute for SEZs (special economic zones) to attract investors, state commerce and industry minister Partha Chatterjee tried to allay fears of the business community on Tuesday and clarified the state is not short of land for industry.
“There is no need to be apprehensive about land for industry.We have enough land. If there is any constraint regarding land come to us for a solution. We would fully cooperate with you. We are committed to developing the ICT (information and communication technology) sector in Bengal,” Chatterjee said while addressing industrialists at an event in the city.
Incidentally, Chatterjee was about to take his seat after completing his speech, when he paused for a moment, turned back and made the remark.
Gopalakrishnan was also present at the meet and the minister’s comments, which seemed more of a sudden realisation was in all probability directed towards the Infosys co-chairman.
“We are continuing discussions with Infosys. We would be happy if they stay back. We hope things would work out soon. The government is discussing ways to provide an alternative to SEZ,” Chatterjee added on the sidelines of the meet.
Chatterjee was merely repeating what chief minister Mamata Banerjee said during the Mumbai industrial summit on August 1, participated by the Ambanis, Mahindras, Godrejs, Goenkas, Dhoots, Hindujas, Kotaks and the who’s who of India Inc. She had assured industrialists saying the state had created a land bank of 11,000 acres and land would not be an issue in Bengal.
However, just a day after the Mumbai meet, State Bank of India chairman Pratip Chowdhury remarked that in the absence of a conducive land policy, it is pretty impossible for Bengal to attract investment. On Monday, Gopalakrishnan spoke on similar lines.
“Every state has a different mechanism for acquiring land for industry. But the state’s help is required to acquire land. We are sure the government would work out something in this regard. SEZs provide certain benefits to industry. Such incentives are required to attract industry in a state. But in the absence of SEZ, an alternative should be found that would provide us the same benefits as SEZ,” Gopalakrishnan had said.
On Tuesday, Gopalakrishnan, however, stepped aside the question of land shortage for industry and harped on the need to create entrepreneurs right from colleges. He said the rising consumption demands of the middle class would propel them to use technology-enabled services in the near future.
“Students, right after they graduate from colleges, should be converted from job-seekers to job-creators. We need to set up incubators in colleges. If Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg could start their businesses while in college, why can’t Indians do so here?” wondered Gopalakrishnan.