The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Township nod with terms

Calcutta, Feb. 14: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s government today approved the Batanagar township proposal, allowing conversion of 262 acres of industrial land for real estate development.

While the land will now be transferred to a realty company to build the Rs 1,500-crore township, the government has laid down a set of conditions that could become the framework for use of surplus or blocked industrial land across Bengal.

Land and land reforms minister Abdur Rezzak Molla unveiled the government decision, saying that Bata India Limited, which is in possession of the land on lease from the state, would be required to fulfil a range of social and economic obligations.

The Calcutta Metropolitan Group Ltd (CMGL), a joint venture of the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority and the United Credit Belani Group, will develop the township on lease from Bata.

“I spent a lot of time and energy working out this deal. So, I know what I’m doing,” Molla said when a few of his cabinet colleagues tried to raise points at a meeting today. “This discussion on the Batanagar proposal is strictly between me and the chief minister.”

As The Telegraph had predicted in a report yesterday, at today’s cabinet meeting, several ministers objected to what they described as a “big waiver” to a healthy multinational, Bata. “They got the land cheap,” said PWD minister Amar Chowdhury.

“Don’t come into the picture, you may find the subject difficult to handle,” Molla told him.

Molla spoke with the authority of someone who had himself opposed the project. He contested the agreement between Bata and CMGL on the ground that the shoe company did not have the right to convert or transfer the land under the West Bengal Estates Acquisition Act as it belonged to the government.

Molla’s department worked out a package (see chart) of social and economic commitments Bata would be required to fulfil after acknowledging that the land belonged to the government.

The package was prepared after valuing the 262-acre tract at Rs 150 crore.

Around 74 acres will be used for the township, 88 acres for social infrastructure, 80 acres for a golf course and another 12 acres for an industrial park.

Bata will have to invest Rs 100 crore over seven years in its operations in the state or give the money to the government for failing to do so.

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