The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Move on industry hubs

Calcutta, April 8: The government, which failed to attract entrepreneurs at industrial growth centres across the state, has engaged four consultants to identify the causes and find ways of improving the situation.

The West Bengal Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation, under the commerce and industry department, developed 13 growth centres over the last five years with financial assistance from the Centre to provide space to entrepreneurs for setting up small and medium units.

However, these centres could attract few entrepreneurs and of the total of 2,000 acres in these zones 50-80 per cent is still lying vacant, according to officials to the industry department. Now, Consulting Engineering Services, I-Win, Bengal Pragati and Bengal Shristi have been asked to identify the reasons behind the no-show and set a roadmap for drawing in entrepreneurs.

'We have engaged four consultants to categorically identify the loopholes in the scheme and prepare a report on how to make the centres most attractive to the investors. We will draw up an action plan after obtaining the report from the consultants,' said Sabyasachi Sen, the principal secretary of the commerce and industry department.

Sen admitted to loopholes in the concept plan for the centres, which are located at Kalyani (Nadia), two phases in Uluberia (Howrah), Haldia, Bishnupur (Bankura), Jalpaiguri, Malda, Falta (South 24-Parganas), Durgapur (Burdwan), Khanyan (Hooghly), Birbhum and Cooch Behar.

Officials of the infrastructure development corporation attribute the lack of interest in these growth areas to poor infrastructure, improper location, poor road connectivity, long distance from towns, lack of proper transportation and security problems. Coupled with these are the housing problems that people working in these areas would face and the lack of civic amenities.

Industry department officials said the government has already invested over Rs 200 crore for procuring land for these centres and developing them by providing basic infrastructure like roads, power connection, water supply and sewerage system.

'We could not get adequate return on our investment as several plots at various growth centres are still lying vacant. Unless we are able to woo investors to the growth centres, the purpose of developing them will not be fulfilled. We have to invest more funds and offer some incentives or concession to woo the investors to the growth centres,' said an official.

The state government had conceived, in the early nineties, the development of industrial growth centres in different districts to provide space to new entrepreneurs to set up small and medium units, according to Atri Bhattacharya, the chief executive officer of the industrial infrastructure development corporation.

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