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Bengal industry ignites debate

Calcutta, July 1: The war of words over Bengal’s industrialisation process escalated today with industries minister Amit Mitra and leader of the Opposition Surya Kanta Mishra crunching numbers on the floor of the Assembly.

While Mitra, an economist, rolled out “details” of investments taking place on the ground, Mishra, a doctor by profession, raised doubts over the veracity of the claim.

According to Mitra, Rs 78,361 crore worth of investments were being implemented in Bengal. “These investments are actually happening on the ground as we speak. These are real numbers,” he said, participating in a discussion on the industry budget.

Mishra, however, countered the argument. “There is no consistency in the figures provided by this government. Had there really been investments, the effect should have been felt on the ground. We do not get to see that,” he noted.

Mitra said the numbers were more “credible” than mere proposals.

He also informed the House about the progress made on providing 14Y clearance — the government’s approval for holding land in excess of the ceiling in Bengal .

According to Mitra, 7,649.13 acres have been cleared by the Mamata Banerjee government, known for its hands-off land policy, under the 14Y clearance route.

These projects entailed an investment of Rs 49,973 crore, creating 45,768 direct jobs, the minister added. There are 13 more proposals, which are expected to be cleared soon.

Mishra argued that under- implementation would not give a clear picture of the pace of industrialisation. “For instance, erecting a boundary wall could well be classified as under-implementation. But that only serves limited purpose,” he said.

Niggling questions

Mishra also raised questions on why Indian Oil Corporation had been dumped by the Bengal government even after the PSU sought to buy into Haldia Petrochemicals Ltd.

Congress leader Manash Bhuiya suggested the government should try an out-of-the- court settlement with Tata Motors to resolve the Singur impasse.

Members of the Left Front suggested a relook at the rigid SEZ policy to facilitate the entry of IT firm Infosys into Bengal.

However, Mitra did not reply to any of these questions. “The matters are sensitive and the government is not in a position to give a definitive answer,” sources in the Trinamul Congress, said.

 
 
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