| State commerce and industry minister Nirupam Sen (left) with Merchants’ Chamber of Commerce chairman K. B. Agarwala in Calcutta on Tuesday. Picture by Kishor Roy Chowdhury
Calcutta, Nov. 25: The Bengal government may consider converting closed units into industrial parks if the promoter of the closed unit wishes to do so, said state commerce and industry minister Nirupam Sen.
He was replying to a question raised by Nicco Corporation co-chairman and managing director Abhijit Sen at an interactive session organised by the Merchants’ Chamber of Commerce.
“This is a good suggestion. We are open to the idea of converting a closed unit into an industrial park if the promoter of the unit comes up with a proposal. I will shortly take up the matter with the state’s legal department,” the minister said.
Till date, the government allows sale of the land of a closed unit to revive a particular industry. And most of these lands have been developed into residential complexes.
The state commerce minister invited private participation for the foundry and apparel parks which are coming up near Kona Expressway. “We want private participation in the industrial parks as this will lead to a conducive environment for investments,” Sen added.
Sen, however, criticised the role of the industry when chamber members raised questions about the role of the trade unions.
“In recent times, labour productivity has increased and trade unions have become more responsible. The industry should also bear its responsibility. It has come to my notice that some of the entrepreneurs do not give minimum wages as stipulated by the West Bengal Minimum Wages Act to their employees. This is not acceptable.”
The commerce ministry will take up the matter with the labour directorate and state labour minister Mohammad Amin so that the payment of minimum wages is closely monitored.
Chamber president K. B. Agarwala raised questions on the formation of land banks. The minister said most of the land in the state is cultivable and therefore, cannot be used for industry. “We have created a land bank. Most of this land is in the districts of Bankura and Purulia,” he said.
On the industrial growth of the state, he said in the last ten years, about Rs 7,000 crore investment has taken place in the iron and steel sector. “We are expecting another Rs 2,000 crore investment to come up in two years.”
The minister sought the help of the tea producers to turn around the tea industry in Bengal. “The industrialists have not ploughed back the money into modernisation of the estates. This has created the problem. We are working out plans for reviving the tea industry. A large number of workers are involved in this industry,” Sen added.