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Time worry for vendors

Calcutta, Sept. 8: Some of the Nano vendors today said another week’s suspension of work could dash for ever the hopes of the Singur project retaining its mother plant status.

In spite of industries minister Nirupam Sen’s promise that the integrated model — where the mother plant and the ancillary units form one unit — will not be disturbed, the vendors remain doubtful about being able to resume work soon.

“We have invested Rs 35 crore on our 7 acres in Singur. For the past 15 days, we have not been able to work. There is utter confusion and lack of clarity because we do not know what will happen to us now,” said Udayan Banerjee, the executive director of Sharda Motors.

The company had paid Rs 1.05 crore for the plot and spent more than that to raise the land by 12 feet.

“We have had to work a lot on the land only to be met with such an insurmountable roadblock,” Banerjee said.

“The building is half done. Our machinery have either been installed or are lying at the port,” he added.

Many vendors setting up shop in Singur also supply components to the automobile hubs in Pune and Pantnagar.

A vendor based in western India, who did not wish to be identified, said that if the Nano is to roll out on schedule, it would be difficult to supply components for it from Singur because of the disruption, made worse by the one-week extension of stop-work.

“When has any government committee submitted its recommendations within a week? We are running out of time and require a minimum of 15 to 20 days to keep the October first-week rollout deadline. Under the present circumstances, it is next to impossible,” said the company’s owner.

Another vendor said the Tata Motors assembly team was already at work in the Pantnagar plant and supplying Nano components there or to Pune would not be a problem because it already sends other materials to those places.

“We have upgraded our facilities in Calcutta for the Nano but everything will go down the drain, all our costs will go haywire with this kind of uncertainty,” said a company that supplies jacks, parking brakes and sheet metal and has taken 2 acres in Singur.

Over 100 Calcutta companies with turnovers ranging from Rs 40 lakh to Rs 30 crore supply materials to other suppliers.

Their fate, too, rests on the vendor park.

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