Mamata Banerjee with railway minister Mukul Roy at the Dankuni programme on Monday. (Bishwarup Dutta)
Dankuni, May 28: Mamata Banerjee today said private investors “are staying away from Bengal because land is not available for them”.
However, she laid stress on the importance of public sector projects — the state has attracted some — saying “public sector investment is also investment”.
The chief minister, whose government’s hands-off policy on land acquisition has so far acted as a deterrent for private industry, said at a railway programme in Hooghly’s Dankuni: “The railways, SAIL, Coal India and the Bengal government will work together for total development. As railway minister, I had commissioned 16 factories. Others are staying away from Bengal because land is not available for them. But these are government projects and they are materialising. These 16 factories will bring industrialisation to Bengal. Public sector investment is also investment.”
Mamata inaugurated a diesel loco-component factory and laid the foundation of an electric loco-component factory in Dankuni.
As railway minister, she had announced the projects in the 2009-10 budget. The foundation of the diesel loco-component factory was laid on December 26, 2009.
Mamata said she had initiated many projects as railway minister as she could foresee political change coming to Bengal.
“I knew change was inevitable in Bengal. I knew there was unemployment in the state. I knew infrastructure was in a shambles. I had to prepare an alternative route for development. That is why I focussed on these railway projects. I have proved that projects can be implemented in record time and not left pending for 35 years,” she said, referring to the Left regime.
Speaking about her meeting with SAIL chairman C.S. Verma on Friday, Mamata said: “We talked about investment of around Rs 21,000 crore. He also spoke about a specialised steel plant, which would be the second of its kind in the world.”
SAIL is exploring the possibility of setting up a speciality steel plant with a foreign partner in Kulti. If the company’s plans materialise, it will mean investments between Rs 6,000 crore and Rs 7,000 crore with a potential to generate 1,500-2,000 jobs.
The chief minister said the factories she had commissioned as railway minister — an axle factory in Siliguri, a DMU coach factory in Haldia and projects in Budge Budge, Nandigram and Kanchrapara — were being built.
“Once the dedicated freight corridor is ready, Dankuni will become an important place. Factories will come up in Hooghly, Burdwan, Howrah and Birbhum. Employment opportunities will increase once these projects are completed. There will be no dearth of employment opportunities,” she said.
Mamata said she was committed to setting up a railway project on the Singur plot where the abandoned Tata Nano plant is located and returning land to unwilling farmers.
“We are going to return 400 acres to the unwilling farmers. On the remaining 600 acres, a Metro coach factory will come up. The project has been planned. We are waiting for the court to give its verdict (on whether the government takeover of the Singur land from the Tatas was constitutional),” the chief minister said.