|Partha Chatterjee (top), Amit Mitra
Calcutta, March 12: Partha Chatterjee may have become the post-budget voice of Amit Mitra but Chatterjee’s industries department is not amused by an ignominious figure in a related document.
The Economic Review, a document placed along with the state budget papers, has suggested that industrial projects valued at Rs 312.24 crore were implemented in the current financial year. The figure is abysmally low, compared with Rs 2,456.46 in 2011 and Rs 15,052.23 crore in 2010, the last year of the 34-year Left run.
The figure, listed under the head “year-wise industrial projects implemented and investment catalysed in West Bengal”, was particularly stark against the backdrop of claims about investment proposals worth Rs 112,769.36 crore for 257 units since May 2011.
Industries minister Chatterjee today conceded that the low figure could potentially create confusion in the minds of people. “I am confident that finance minister Amit Mitra will explain the figures during budget discussions in the Assembly,” Chatterjee said.
“We have been here only for 22 months. How do you expect any of the proposals received in this period to get reflected in the number?” Chatterjee asked, suggesting that the figure mirrored the lack of industrial activity in the last leg of Left rule.
Outside the House, Mitra has spoken few words in public on the budget. Yesterday, in an unusual decision, the chief minister asked Chatterjee to speak on the budget after Mitra had presented it. Chatterjee had termed the budget a landmark, little realising that it packed a figure that could embarrass his department.
If Chatterjee, who has seen one potential competitor after another bite the dust within Trinamul and the government, left it to Mitra to clear the air, a section of officials at the industries ministry was more vocal.
“The document refers to only 12 projects implemented during 2012. Many in various stages have not been accounted for. An explanatory note would have made things clear,” an official said.
Saugata Roy, who recently gave up his role as adviser to the chief minister on industry and IT, said: “I don’t know from where you have got the figure. I have not come across any such statistics. The state industries department and the directorate of industrial policy and promotion of the Centre keep such records. Without checking facts, I cannot comment.”
Sources said the figure was collected from the state directorate of industries, a department under Chatterjee.
An official who used to head the department said the 2012 figure could possibly indicate proposals that came in 2010-11. “Unless it is a big project, it takes about one or two years to get the project completed from the stage of firm proposals. Going by this, the 2012 figure is a reflection of the past one or two years’ activities,” he said.
However, no one in the government was willing to solve the larger riddle of “proposals” worth Rs 112,769.36 crore. The industries department has not released the break-up, prompting some to suspect that the figure may have been padded with projects from the time of the Left.