The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Front nod to Salim pact
- CM keeps door ajar for talks even after signing of pact

Calcutta, July 28: Buddha- deb Bhattacharjee assured Left Front partners today that the memorandum of agree-ment with the Salim Group to be inked on Monday will be a 'general one', only giving the contours of the projects it will invest in.

The deal between the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation and New Cal- cutta International Development Company, floated by the Indonesian conglomerate to implement the Bengal projects, will be signed in the presence of the group's Big Two ' Anthony Salim and Benny Santoso.

The specific terms and conditions will be finalised only after the government receives the detailed project reports (DPRs), which leaves scope for further negotiations, the chief minister told the allies this morning.

Front sources said controversy over the government's move to hand over vast tracts of land to the group and the need to leave room for further 'bargaining' have led to the decision.

'The details of the projects that are to be included in the memorandum of agreement are yet to be finalised as negotiations are still on,' Bhattacharjee was quoted to have said.

'The memorandum of agreement with the Salim Group will be signed on July 31. None of the front partners has any objection to it. However, the government is yet to receive the DPR. So this agreement will be a general one incorpo-rating the developments that took place after the signing of the initial MoU (during the chief minister's trip to Indonesia last year),' CPM state secretary and Left Front chairman Biman Bose said.

'The government has agreed to the Salims' detailed project proposals submitted recently. There will be scope for changes in the agreement as well as discussion in the front after receiving the DPR,' he added.

Bhattacharjee told the allies that the scope for Salims' investment has increased manifold. The government has asked them to fund and build the 100-km Barasat-Raichak expressway, 10 commercial hubs along the road and two bridges across the Haldi and develop a special economic zone and chemical hub in Haldia. An industrial park and a small and medium enterprises park at Nandigram, close to Haldia, are also in the pipeline.

In the bargain, the Salims are likely to get land for two townships at Baruipur and Kukrahati near Haldia .

Having ensured the front's approval, the chief minister will seek the CPM politburo's support for the Salim agree- ment to rein in doubters in the party such as land and land reforms minister Abdur Rezzak Mollah.

Bhattacharjee and Bose left for Delhi this evening for the meeting beginning tomorrow.

At today's meeting, the allies expressed dissatisfaction over the note prepared by industries minister Nirupam Sen because it lacked details about the Salim and Tata projects.

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