The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bhattacharjee: All praise

Calcutta, Dec. 19: The chief minister today said the Left trade unions are being responsible these days.

'The workers are now behaving well,' Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said at a conference of the Public Relations Society of India.

Blaming years of militant trade unionism for the state's adverse image to investors, Bhattacharjee said he has personally worked hard to improve it. 'We had serious image problems even a few years ago. Serious questions were raised about whether the state government was investor-friendly and whether the trade unions were creating problems,' he said.

'Now the image has improved to a great extent' I am trying my best to improve West Bengal in education, industry, healthcare, agro-based industry and other fields'

'Today's industrial workers are well behaved.'

He mentioned the problems persisting 'in infrastructure and road connectivity'.

The chief minister, who has repeatedly pleaded with the union leaders to shun militant agitations and urged them not to harm productivity, said the state has seen a 120 per cent growth in information technology. The national growth rate in the sector, he added, is 35 per cent.

About 1,600 infotech professionals work in the state now and the figure is likely to be around 7,000 in two years, Bhattacharjee said.

Big companies like Wipro, IBM and Cognizant Technologies now have units in Bengal.

Bhattacharjee boasted that the tech firms did not lose a single day's work this year because of the unions.

Wipro chief Azim Premji had requested the state for an additional 40 acres to expand business from Bengal. Bhattacharjee said: 'He told me that 50 per cent of the professionals in his organisation are from this state and 75 per cent of them are from Jadavpur University. I felt good but at the same time, I became sad that we have not been able to hold back our professionals.'

Besides information technology, Bhattacharjee said, Bengal is receiving new investments in iron and steel and the agro-based sectors.

He also added that 10 per cent of the state's population (about 4.5 lakh people) is still below poverty line.

Bhattacharjee also requested the public relations society 'to help in the formation of women's self-help groups' and set up a public relations training institute in the state.

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