| Nirupam Sen
Purulia, Nov. 13: Bengal’s western-most district may soon no longer be known only for its tourist spots and economic backwardness. The visit of commerce and industries minister Nirupam Sen to Purulia today, his first since taking office, has provided impetus to a transformation set in motion by the local administration about a year ago.
Most of the 45-odd industrialists, entrepreneurs and representatives of the Purulia Chamber of Commerce were optimistic about the investment climate being created in the district. After a meeting with the minister and an array of district officials, they, however, voiced concern over a few stumbling blocks.
For one, political interference during recruitment had to be curbed. “Though the leaders are now expressing adequate political will in favour of industrial growth and expansion, they remain quiet whenever there is hooliganism by local rowdies affiliated to various parties,” pointed out D.K. Singhania, a Purulia-based industrialist. Second, though labour is perhaps the cheapest in the state, there is no mindset for industrial work among the district’s predominantly agricultural people.
Sen assured that these and other local problems would be looked into and urged zilla parishad chairman Swapan Banerjee, who has a pivotal role, to do the needful. It is likely that some of the problems would be raised during chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s visit to the district on Saturday.
District magistrate D.P. Jana has been instrumental in paving the way for industrial growth in an area where standard of living and per capita income are some of the lowest in the country.
Since April last year, 10 sponge iron units with an investment of Rs 296.17 crore have come up in the district, thanks to the single-window facilities of the administration. More expansion is likely in mineral and agro-based industries.
Interestingly, half of the participants at the meeting were from the neighbouring districts and Jharkhand.
In the morning, Sen also held a meeting on the implementation of the Rashtriya Sam Vikas Yojana pilot project that entails Central funding of Rs 15 crore for the next three years. Two districts in Bengal — Jalpaiguri and Purulia — are among the 25 most backward districts in the country chosen for the project, a new initiative of the Planning Commission for development and reforms during the Tenth Plan.