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Boom, but it’s not IT

Calcutta, Dec. 4: The information technology industry may be hogging all the limelight, but in Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s Bengal, the trigger for the recent growth run is the manufacturing industry.

Between April and June 2003, the number of approvals issued to manufacturing industries in the state has doubled and the money involved in the projects has gone up by around three times, when compared with the same period last year.

The September issue of the quarterly bulletin, Investment, Industry & Trade in West Bengal, says the second quarter has seen 121 industrial approvals amounting to Rs 1,630.45 crore being issued. The figure was Rs 544.25 crore from 62 approvals a year ago.

“This is indeed a positive development. Though all the approvals do not translate into actual investments, the quantum of increase is an indication of an upbeat mood in the industry,” says M.K. De, the director of industries.

Medium and large enterprises are required to obtain these approvals for setting up new units, undertaking substantial expansion and to manufacture new articles. The data reveals that out of the 121 approvals, 38 were issued for projects involving Rs 10 crore and above. Iron and steel, food processing, engineering and plastic have been the major contributors to the state’s improved showing, says De.

Not just approvals, the numbers look impressive in the case of industrial projects implemented between April and June 2003. Data available with the directorate of industries shows 38 projects involving an investment of Rs 1,084.93 crore were implemented, of which 18 projects worth Rs 524.61 crore were executed in the second quarter.

The government expects the “projects implemented” figure to cross the Rs 2,500 crore mark by December-end.

“The implementation rate in the state is around 38 to 40 per cent, which is among the highest in the country and way above the national average of about 33 per cent,” says De.

With investments flowing in, the government has rolled out incentives. According to figures with it, 34 industrial units with investment of around Rs 697 crore were registered under West Bengal Industrial Incentive Scheme, 2000, between April and June this year.

But on the foreign investment front, Bengal has a lot of catching up to do. Only nine foreign direct investment approvals worth Rs 10.8 crore were issued between April and June.

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