The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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After cars, Tatas to roll out payloaders Salim plans food park in Howrah

Calcutta, May 16: Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has not started his new innings yet, but investors cannot wait.

In addition to the Rs 1-lakh car, the Tatas want to make excavators and payloaders in Bengal.

Telcon, an 80:20 joint venture between Tata Engineering and Hitachi Construction Machinery of Japan, now manufactures 35-tonne dump-trucks and excavators in Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, and in Dharwad, Karnataka.

'Talks (on the payloader plant) are in the final stages and an announcement is expected on the evening of May 18, when the small car unit will also be announced,' a senior government official said.

Although officials refused to comment on the project saying the formal announcement was due on May 18, it was learnt that the project is likely to involve investment worth around Rs 250 crore and require 100-200 acres.

Kharagpur is the likely address for this Tata unit.

Indofood, a subsidiary of the Indonesia-based Salim Group, has decided to set up a food park, somewhere in Howrah.

It will comprise food processing units that will produce baby food, potato chips, rice noodles, canned fruits, tomato ketchup, chilli sauce and yoghurt.

'Indofood is one of the biggest food companies in Indonesia. They are interested in both food processing units as well as the dairy sector. They will basically target the lower end of the market, manufacturing products for mass consumption at low cost,' commerce and industries secretary Sabyasachi Sen said.

The company, which has 5,000 employees in Indonesia, plans to market noodles and baby food in small sachets for Rs 2 or 3, said Sen.

Kevin Sietho, its vice-president and director, met the chief minister this evening. Earlier, he met Sen after inspecting sites at Uluberia and Sankrail in Howrah.

'According to our initial assessment, we can produce potato chips and rice-based cereals here. We will now conduct a detailed study on what can be effectively produced in Bengal. Each of the products we process will require a separate outlay,' said Sietho.

Sen said the company would conduct a market study and then prepare a preliminary project re- port. 'They will then send us a concept paper, specifying the products they want to manufacture, the land, power, water and manpower resources they require.'

With officials of the state animal resources department, Sietho will inspect the Haringhata dairy in Krishnagar, Nadia, tomorrow.

The government has requested Sietho to rebuild Bengal's dairy stock by undertaking a breeding programme in the long run.

'In the short term, they plan to procure and process milk and other dairy products at Haringhata. Tomorrow, they will take a look at our assets, land, animal stock as well as infrastructure there,' Sen said.

Besides milk products, Indofood manufactures instant noodles, pasta, fruit juices, sauces and seasonings and cooking oils and operates in several countries, including Pakistan, Nigeria, Egypt and the UAE.

Work on Mahabharat Motorcycle Company at Uluberia is likely to start soon. Gunadi Kang, the chairman of the Salims' automobile division, is flying down to attend the chief minister's swearing-in.

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