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Tata-‘fata’ bid for bus

A group of Tata Motors officials met state transport secretary B.P. Gopalika at Writers’ Buildings on Monday to explore the possibility of selling buses to the Mamata Banerjee government, which is preparing to move the Supreme Court to gain control of the Singur plot where the Nano factory was to have come up.

“I don’t know Tata or fata. The company representatives wanted to meet and they were given a patient hearing today. We want more buses on the city roads and several companies are queuing up with their business proposals,” transport minister Madan Mitra told Metro on Monday.

“Nothing has been finalised but we would like corporate bodies to run buses. The government is in the process of fine-tuning the terms and conditions for making a preliminary offer to corporate bodies,” he added.

Transport department insiders said the government was looking at buying about 100 buses in two lots. The buses, according to the preliminary plan, would be handed over to franchises to run on routes fixed by the state transport authority.

“We are looking at buses smaller than the ones we bought a few years ago since they would be more suitable for the city roads. We have received proposals from a few companies and several others are lined up with theirs,” said a senior official.

During the Left Front era, the Bengal government had bought buses from Tata Motors under the JNNURM scheme.

The spokesperson for Tata Motors was not available for comment.

Sources close to the company said such business meetings were routine in all the markets where it operates. “We do not believe our ties with Bengal have snapped because one project (the Nano factory) fell though. It is business as usual, at least we think this way,” said the source.

Industry observers pointed out that meetings were common before bulk purchases but the unusual circumstances in Bengal had cast the spotlight on the interaction.

The first decision of the Mamata Banerjee cabinet was to take back the Singur land. The government promulgated an act to take the 997 acres leased to Tata Motors back. After the company moved Calcutta High Court, a single bench upheld the act, but later a division of the court ruled that it was unconstitutional and void.

The state government is preparing to challenge the division bench verdict in the apex court by filing a special leave petition, which might be done as early as Tuesday.