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Bid to recover HM plot cash

Calcutta, Sept. 5: The state government is exploring the possibility of entering into a fresh agreement with Hindustan Motors (HM) to recover Rs 200 crore from the company.

“Only a policy decision has been taken on this matter. It will be referred to a higher committee and then (discussed) at a cabinet meeting,” labour minister Purnendu Bose said.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the state government’s industrial sub-committee, which has as members finance minister Amit Mitra, industries minister Partha Chatterjee, labour minister Bose, panchayat and public health engineering minister Subrata Mukherjee and urban development minister Firhad Hakim.

Although an audit reportedly estimated that HM had sold the land for Rs 285 crore to Bengal Shriram in 2006, the government had received only Rs 10.5 crore. The state had given HM permission to sell the leased-out land to fund the revival of the sick unit. The initial valuation of the land had been pegged at Rs 85 crore.

“After the internal audit, the state government found that the excess land of the unit was sold at Rs 284.5 crore to Bengal Shriram. The state government lost a major portion of its due revenue during the Left regime. We are thinking of ways to recover the money,” a minister who was present at the meeting said.

HM managing director Uttam Bose said: “We think the demand of Rs 200 crore is not justified. Discussions are still on among the state, Bengal Shriram and HM.”

The industrial sub-committee has decided to ask Bata to give back 40 acres on which the company was supposed to set up a school, a 500-bed hospital and staff quarters because of lack of progress in the work. The land was given in 2005.

“Bata has already agreed to return 13 acres. We have decided to ask them to return 40 acres more. We had discussions with them. They are keen to resolve the matter as soon as possible,” Bose said.