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Twists in Partha’s ‘success’ tales

- Minister speaks of land and funds problems but bats for Mamata and successor

Calcutta, Dec. 27: Partha Chatterjee today spoke of the “success stories” of industry under his stewardship and simultaneously highlighted funds and land constraints, a day after he was removed as industries minister apparently because of non-performance.

Chatterjee, who was the chief guest at the inauguration of the Industrial India Trade Fair organised by the Bengal National Chamber of Commerce & Industry at the Milan Mela grounds, said: “There are many success stories in the area of commerce and industries in the state that speak of initiative and determined efforts of Team Industry.”

In a Facebook post later, Chatterjee expressed his “heartfelt gratitude” to a host of people, including those related to the industries department, and requested “all to provide timely support to the new incumbent, i.e. the New Industry Minister”.

Chatterjee said the government had received investment proposals of Rs 115,755 crore from 311 industrial units till October. “It will create 340,000 employment opportunities.”

The minister, who has retained the IT and parliamentary affairs portfolios, said the investment proposals ranged from Rs 300 crore to Rs 29,000 crore. He added he worked “under the visionary leadership and guidance of Mamata Banerjee”.

Speaking on incentives the industries department had provided to business units, Chatterjee said over Rs 650 crore was awaiting the clearance of the finance department, which is overseen by Amit Mitra who was given the industries portfolio in yesterday’s reshuffle.

“In the first eight months of the fiscal year (April-November), we sanctioned incentives amounting to Rs 135 crore and disbursed Rs 142 crore. Because of a huge backlog, we still have Rs 676.69 crore outstanding. We hope to clear this gradually through availability of funds,” Chatterjee added.

He said the land department, which is under the chief minister, was yet to approve 16 of the 24 proposals the industries department had sent for units to hold land in excess of the ceiling. Chatterjee said the 24 proposed projects involved 10,504.62 acres. Eight projects have got approval under Section 14Y of the West Bengal Land Reforms Act to hold ceiling-excess land.

“A total land area of 4,740.37 acres is expected to get final clearance from the land and land reforms department soon,” Chatterjee said.

The minister also highlighted initiatives taken for conducting smooth business, including single-window clearance, a seven-page common application form and appointment of relationship managers for projects.

On industrial reconstruction, another department he lost to Mitra after getting a red card from the chief minister in an appraisal, Chatterjee said at the programme that “serious efforts” had been made to turn around weak public sector enterprises.

“WBMTDC (West Bengal Mineral Trading & Development Corporation) made a profit of Rs 6.52 crore in the financial year 2012-13 after incurring losses for five consecutive years. Mackintosh Burn Ltd is expected to book a profit of Rs 18.93 crore in 2013-14, around 50 per cent more than Rs 12.91 crore in 2011-12. The turnover of Saraswati Press grew from Rs 58.19 crore in 2010-11 to Rs 148.65 crore in 2012-13 and is expected to touch Rs 200 crore this year. The company has paid a dividend of Rs 141.5 lakh to the government in the last two years,” he said.

Chatterjee said the IT department had seen rise in software exports from the state. Several IT parks have been planned in different districts and are expected to be completed by 2014-15, he added.

Addressing potential investors, he said: “I can assure you that the government of West Bengal under the visionary guidance of our CM will extend all possible co-operation.”

WBIDC role

On his role in the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation, Chatterjee said while leaving the venue: “Usually, the industries minister becomes the chairman of the WBIDC. May be, I will have to quit from there too.”

Asked about his destination, he said: “I am going to the Trinamul headquarters. I am more required there now.” Yesterday, Mamata had said Chatterjee would play a bigger role in the party.

SEASON OF THANKS

Partha Chatterjee in a Facebook post on Friday

I sincerely convey my heartfelt gratitude to all of those especially Industry Captains, Business Chambers, Consulate Generals, my Colleagues, Officers and Employees of the Commerce and Industry Department and in particular, the people of Behala for lending unstinted support in carrying out my duties and responsibilities in the industry department under the dynamic leadership of Ms Mamata Banerjee, Hon’ble Chief Minister of West Bengal. I would also like to request all to provide timely support to the new incumbent, i.e. the New Industry Minister. In case of any difficulty, please do not hesitate to ask for any kind of support and help. I will be more than happy to cooperate. Best wishes and happy New Year, 2014!