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Bengal task force for fast clearance

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on the podium during the special session of CII event Biz Bridge on Wednesday. Picture by Bishwarup Dutta

Calcutta, Nov. 13: Chief minister Mamata Banerjee today announced a task force to issue clearance for setting up industrial units in investment-starved Bengal.

“We have decided to form a five-member task force of officials from five departments that have a role to play in setting up industries. These officials will be available at the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (office). If proposals for industry come, they will issue the necessary clearances,” Mamata said at a special session of Biz Bridge 2013, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (eastern region) on the Milan Mela grounds.

This was the first CII event attended by Mamata since she became chief minister in May 2011. Mamata had not met a Ficci delegation led by president Naina Lal Kidwai two days ago.

The chief minister, who has been trying to attract investment to Bengal by holding conclaves with members of India Inc, said she was unhappy with the slow clearance of projects despite her government introducing a “single-window” system.

“The single-window clearance is in place but setting up industrial units requires the nod of a number of departments. The government must speed up work. The departments must speed up work. Even if the projects are cleared at the (cabinet) level, files get delayed in the departments. That is why we have decided to set up this task force like an empowerment group,” Mamata said.

The chief minister had earlier formed a core committee with representatives from corporate houses and business chambers. A cabinet sub-committee on industry with senior ministers and key officials was formed to settle land issues, especially those related to clearance of projects that require ceiling-excess land.

The state is averse to the idea of a government role in land acquisition for industry. During interactions with industry representatives, Mamata has tried to assure them that land would not come in the way of setting up industry.

Today, the chief minister rolled out a list of areas in the state where government- owned land could be used for setting up manufacturing units, industrial townships and small-scale industries.

She also mentioned the steps her government had taken to facilitate industry, such as policies on land, small and medium enterprises, textile and public-private partnerships.

While speaking about the industrial potential of Bengal, Mamata said: “I don’t know whether I will be successful in every matter but we can try.”