The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Opp. finds fault with CII report

Siliguri, May 22: The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) survey report on three districts in the region has invited ire from opposition parties like the Congress and Trinamul Congress.

Even businessmen of north Bengal have found 'nothing impressive' in the industrialisation report of Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar brought out in February, a few months before the Assembly elections.

The report stated that during the past 14 years, around 140 industrial units have been set up in the region with a total investment of around Rs 500 crore. Fifty-eight units associated with the tea industry were opened in Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling, followed by other units, including cold storage and star-rated hotels, it stated.

District Congress and Trinamul leaders, however, have labelled it as an 'exaggerated' report. They have also blamed CII for releasing it before the polls, which allegedly had 'helped CPM garner support'.

'We doubt the credibility of the facts in the report. How can CII claim that industries have been doing well in the region when the tea sector has been in such a bad condition' said Shankar Malakar, the Darjeeling district Congress president. 'If the CII wants to develop north Bengal as an industrial region, they should develop the tea industry. The report was released just before polls and was used an an effective poll plank for the CPM.'

Going a step ahead of the Congress, the Trinamul leaders have labelled the business body 'stooges of the CPM'. 'Such reports hardly have any basis. The trend and the time it was published clearly indicated the biased nature of the CII,' alleged Gautam Deb, Trinamul district president of Darjeeling. 'The report helped CPM leaders of the districts, who during their campaign boasted about an industrialisation, which is hardly there.'

Businessmen here apparently found nothing new in the report. 'A report published by a national body like the CII should have been more exhaustive,' said Biswajit Das, the secretary of the Focin.

All praise for the report, Kamal Mittal, the chairman of North Bengal Zonal Council of the CII, however, said: 'This was the first survey report on north Bengal.'

'It also included chapters where issues like prospects of industries, facilities required for improving business and geo-locational advantages of north Bengal were addressed,' Mittal added. 'It is sure to help prospective investors and existing entrepreneurs here.'

The district CPM also remained firm in their support of the CII. 'Industrialisation in north Bengal is no longer a hypothetical issue. Several companies have set up their units here while a few more are eager to invest in the area. We are positive that the CII will assist in setting up new units here,' said Ashok Bhattacharya, the municipal affairs and urban development minister of the state.

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