The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Acquisition sole option

Calcutta, July 26: Nirupam Sen made it clear today that the government cannot wait for land of closed industries to be unlocked ' a process that might take years ' and implied that acquisition of land for new units was inevitable.

“Bengal will never witness industrialisation if the government is asked to set up industry only on land of closed factories. Their fate lies with the BIFR (Board for Industrial and Financial Reconstruction). So it would be better not to explore this option,’’ the industries minister said in the Assembly, replying to a Trinamul Congress-sponsored motion.

“Let us accept reality: other land has to be acquired,” Sen added.

“Other land” would also mean farmland, which the Opposition and some CPM allies had wanted spared.

Trinamul chief Mamata Banerjee for one had repeatedly said agricultural land should not be taken over for industry, which should rather be housed on the premises of closed or sick units.

Sen said a study conducted a year and a half ago had said around 41,000 acres were locked in closed industrial units. But a large chunk of the land was in Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling, which are dotted with closed tea gardens.

“The quantum of land in these two areas is nearly half the total area in which closed factories are located,” the minister said.

Some 8,500 acres are also lying locked in Burdwan, but the sick units there have mostly been referred to the BIFR. “Burdwan is my district. But what can we do' We have no option but to look for other land,” the minister said.

In Calcutta, Howrah, Hooghly and the two 24-Parganas, there are 66 closed units whose management want to sell over 1,500 acres to revive the industries or pay employees. “But I don’t have a magic wand to put these plots in one cluster and give it to the Tatas,’’ Sen said.

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