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Since 1st March, 1999
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Colour of cash no bar
• Paper mill with Indonesia’s April Fine Paper
• Modernise Haringhata dairy with Salim Group
• Build India’s biggest shopping mall
• Rubber park at Howrah
• Herbal park for medicinal plants
• Coal mixing plant with Bakri Group
• Industrial city with Salim Group

Calcutta, Aug. 29: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said today he would develop Bengal with foreign capital, never mind its colour or nationality.

“Punji-r kono desh nei, kono rong nei (capital has no nationality, no colour),” the chief minister told a news conference, spawning a line that may become a part of Bengal’s political lore.

Bhattacharjee spoke for the first time in public about his apparently successful trip to Indonesia and Singapore last week, from which he arrived to a debate about the Salim Group’s antecedents and some confusion within the Left about what he had signed with it.

“My priority is Bengal and its development. To achieve my goal, I shall welcome foreign or private capital. I shall have no inhibition about the nationality or (ideological) colour of such capital. My only reservation will be about accepting black money or proceeds from smuggling,” he said.

Bhattacharjee admitted there was confusion in the CPM, as Jyoti Basu himself has said, and the Left Front about the industrial city the Indonesian group is proposing in South 24-Parganas.

“It is natural for anyone to get confused or become worried over such huge projects. But I am ready to clear such confusion. This morning, I suggested to Left Front chairman Biman Bose to convene a meeting of the front where I shall explain everything.”

He is scheduled to brief the CPM politburo and the central committee shortly.

However, Bhattacharjee also said he was surprised at the profusion of questions about the projects. “I can’t understand why so many questions are being raised. It’s not that projects are being proposed in Bengal for the first time. It is not that we are bidding farewell to agriculture to promote industry.”

Land minister Abdur Rezzak Molla has been the most vocal about the feared fallout of the industrial city project on farmers ' an apprehension Bhattacharjee addressed.

“Our agreements with the Salim Group contain a safety net for farmers whose land will be used in the project. We should not forget that 65 per cent of our people live off agriculture and we have to keep in our mind their interests while acquiring land,” he said.

The Salim Group will also build an 85-km road to connect Barasat, Bhangar, Baruipur and Diamond Harbour in North and South 24-Parganas.

Bhattacharjee said he was also hopeful about a health city and a logistics hub coming up in or around Calcutta.

“The health city will be located near the airport as it will help doctors and patients to move easily into it. Over a dozen of our private hospitals have prepared a preliminary report on the proposed city, which I handed over to companies in Indonesia and Singapore. We will just provide them land.”

He rubbished the Opposition charge that his foreign trip was a stunt before next year’s polls.

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