The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Buddha woos investors, Sen pacifies farmers
- Salim deal signed, CM in a hurry to 'take state forward'

Calcutta, July 31: The Bengal government chose a deal-signing ceremony today to reassure investors and farmers.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee told investors that the government would go full steam ahead and pursue its industrialisation agenda while his colleague and industries minister Nirupam Sen urged land-losers and marginal farmers not to worry.

'People of Bengal are waiting for us to perform.... Their mandate for the government is to strike a balance between agriculture and industry and take the state forward,' the chief minister said.

Bhattacharjee was speaking after the signing ceremony of a deal ' billed as the first of its kind in the country ' between the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation and New Kolkata International Development Pvt Ltd, the company floated by the Indonesia-based Salim Group, its collaborator Prasoon Mukherjee's Universal Success and Delhi-based construction major Unitech.

'We are talking about inclusive growth here and we are trying to include all the stakeholders,' Sen said, stressing that the poorest of the poor will be made partners in progress.

Benny Santoso, executive director of the Salim Group, also pitched in with talk of the human face of industrialisation. 'Profit from the project is definitely a motive, but that's not all. We want to strike a balance between commercial objectives and social needs.'

From industrial estates to housing complexes for the economically weaker sections, and roads and bridges to health and knowledge cities, the company has signed up with the government to develop several projects over 40,000 acres. (See chart).

Sen said the 'beauty' of the agreement is the 'significant' investment ' Rs 3,430 crore ' in creating social infrastructure. Out of this, around Rs 130 crore has been set aside as compensation for the land-losers.

'A major part of the projects will come up in East Midnapore, where land is fallow. Besides, we are also trying our best to leave multi-crop fertile land in South 24-Parganas out of the ambit of acquisition,' he added, addressing concerns about food security and loss of farmers' livelihood.

But he would not put a deadline to the land acquisition, saying it would be done smoothly over time.

Bhattacharjee seemed to be in a hurry though. 'Aajker pore amader mathe namte hobe' boshe thakle cholbe na' kaaj korte hobe (We have to take the field straightaway' we can't sit idle' we have to work),' he signed off, after listing a new airport and a deep-sea port among the state's top priorities.

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