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Steel city floors Singur mates

Jamshedpur, Jan. 18: Since seeing is believing, Tata Motors is not taking chances. The auto major has been organising conducted trip for villagers from Singur (Bengal) to showcase community initiatives of the company in and around Jamshedpur.

One such group, comprising men, women and teenagers, left the steel city today after a 30-hour stay without giving the media any inkling. The batch arrived at night by the Steel Express and left by the same train this morning.

While company officials refused to speak, let alone confirm the visit, employees lower down, who had driven the group around and acted as chaperons or merely interacted with them, declared that the Bengal team was suitably impressed, even overawed.

The 25-member team included six women and the members were drawn from various panchayats like Berabari, Gopalnagar and Khaserbheri.

The visitors were, of course, taken around the Jamshedpur plant, which manufactures chassis for trucks, and the test track. But they spent much more time observing community initiatives of Gram Vikas Kendra, a wing of the company.

The group appeared visibly-impressed with the income village women appeared to be generating here with the help of GVK, confided someone who was present at the Integrated Rural Development Centre at Khagripada village.

The economic independence of Jharkhand villages, said an official on condition of anonymity, caught the group by surprise. They openly discussed how they were worse off than many villagers here, even after living in such close proximity to Calcutta, the bustling metro.

The team was briefed about the training programme for agro-based cottage industry, horticulture and repair of handpumps.

The villagers from Bengal were also driven to Dorkasai and Kalapathar, the two panchayats in the state where every house has a toilet. They also had a ring-side view of the tree-plantation drive and watershed management to improve the water-table. A driver recalled overhearing some members of the team excitedly discussing plans of starting similar ventures at Singur.

A beaming Tata Motors official, finally, admitted that the conducted trip had indeed been a resounding success. The positive reaction of the Singur villagers had boosted the morale of company officials, who were demoralised at the string of negative reports in the media over Trinamul Congress and people’s opposition to the company’s small car project at Singur.

No official word, however, was available on how many such groups had visited the steel city so far or if other groups are expected.

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