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Farmers’ land for firm

Bettiah (Bihar), April 28: Film director, producer and reluctant politician Prakash Jha today appeared here in his new role of an industrialist.

A sugar mill, promoted by him, will come up here on land donated by 351 farmers — a model that Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar wants other industrialists to follow.

Laying the foundation stone at Gurwalia on the outskirts of Bettiah today, Nitish said his government is opposed to acquire land by using force. Nandigram, he declared amid applause, will not be repeated in Bihar.

The sugar mill is being set up at a cost of Rs 250 crore by PM Infrastructure Ltd, a company floated by Jha. The complex is being put up on 200 acres and will include a captive power plant as well as a distillery to produce ethanol. It has also pledged to spare power for the state.

Bihar, said the chief minister, had 27 sugar mills at the time of Independence and produced 27 per cent of the sugar produced in the country. But today the state has only a two per cent market share.

Speakers at the ceremony noted that this is the first private sector investment in sugar mills in Bihar since Independence.

Enthused by the presence of the 351 land donors, Nitish said industry would prosper only when farmers voluntarily donate land and participate in industrialisation.

“I appeal to investors not to involve the government in land acquisitions because the Opposition will trigger unwarranted agitation,” Nitish said. “Future investors should directly deal with the people the way Jha has done”.

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