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Bengal taps package power of parks
- Rush to create industry hubs: Five on stream, 12 in queue

Calcutta, Nov. 1: Parks aplenty are coming up in Bengal ' not for early-morning strolls but for serious business, often 24 hours a day.

From food and gems and jewellery to steel, rubber and plastic, these parks house a cluster of industrial units be- longing to a particular sector.

The grouping together reduces cost of operation as the industries share facilities ' infrastructure and marketing for example ' created especially for them.

In the past two-three years, five such parks have been developed and more than a dozen are in the offing.

'Three years ago, there were very few sector-specific parks in the state. But then we realised that unless good infrastructure is created for industry, it would not be possible to attract investors,' said Gopal Krishna, the managing director of the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation.

The parks were a readymade solution to the lack of facilities with a complete package of what investors wanted from the place where they put in their money. The organised set-up also ensures that norms like pollution check and hazard control are adhered to.

'It is the state's policy to encourage setting up sector-specific parks as they ensure pollution-free production and better infrastructure, being a hub of integrated services. This also helps increase competitiveness of the units,' Gopal Krishna added.

The clustering together of units of a particular sector with most extraneous demands taken care of means the entrepreneurs can focus entirely on business and invest more.

'The idea is to offer investors a hassle-free and non-polluting environment,' Gopal Krishna said.

For the investors, the parks are creating opportunities to expand business. 'The set-ups are making industries happy and willing to expand,' the official said.

Pankaj Parekh, the eastern region chairman of the Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council, who owns two units in Manikanchan, said: 'There was an urgent need for the park as artisans were moving out of Bengal in search of work. Entrepreneurs here could not employ them adequately in the absence of infrastructure. If there are proper facilities, any investor will be happy.'

In Manikanchan, 23 out of 31 units have already been sold and six are in operation.

Central funds meant specifically for such initiatives are also an incentive.

One of the fastest emerging sectors is food because of the rich potential in agriculture and horticulture. The industrial development corporation is developing a food park in Howrah, the first phase of which is already operational.

Five more food parks have also been proposed ' at Haldia, Durgapur, Howrah, Murshidabad and Malda.

Industrial parks are also being created for garments, apparel, biotechnology, plastic, rubber and services sectors. Many more are already on the drawing board.

Shahanshah Jehangir, who has proposed a furniture park in Howrah, said: 'The industry is unorganised and most artisans are poor. If the park is set up, the furniture industry will benefit and so will the workers. Even buyers would profit with quality products available under a roof and at competitive rates.'

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