The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Business big guns set sights on Bolpur

Calcutta, Aug. 13: Tagore’s town has caught the eye of big business.

Two of India’s biggest corporate houses — Reliance and Tata — have expressed interest in an industrial and social project in Bolpur, known so far as only a tourist attraction because of its umbilical cord with Santiniketan.

The West Bengal Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (WBIIDC) has acquired 200 acres on the outskirts of Bolpur for the composite complex.

Sources said the two companies are in talks with government agencies to acquire land there. While Reliance is keen to set up an agri business unit, the Tatas are looking to build a budget hotel.

Ratan Tata and Reliance Industries head Mukesh Ambani had recently met chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee in Calcutta to discuss investments in the state.

Ratan Tata

“If both groups decide to invest here, it will be a landmark development for an economically backward district like Birbhum, opening new vistas for industry outside greater Calcutta,” an industry analyst said.

At least 20 per cent of the complex has been earmarked for industry, and it may go up to 50 per cent if required, the WBIIDC said.

Incentives will be given to industries like infotech, biotech and those based on agriculture.

The government is hoping that Reliance, which is venturing into agriculture-based business across the country, would be the anchor investor in the hub.

Santiniketan Infrastructure Pvt Ltd, the joint venture company developing the project, has engaged Townland Corporation Ltd of Hong Kong for preparing the master plan. A Swedish company that specialises in industrial cluster development will act as consultant.

The complex will also have a high-end hospital with a training school for nurses, a boarding school, a business school, a hotel and a residential and commercial unit.

“We believe that good social infrastructure is equally important to attract industry in Bengal. This is first of its kind in the state. If it takes off, the experiment can be replicated on a bigger scale elsewhere,” said Atri Bhattacharya, the chief executive officer of WBIIDC.

Keeping the social objective in mind, 12.5 per cent of the healthcare facility has been earmarked for the economically weaker sections.

A residential and commercial complex will come up on 15 per cent of the land.

Amity Business School is believed to have been asked to run the management institute.

More land could be acquired in Bolpur for future expansion, Bhattacharya said.

An official said such a composite project would augur well for the area, where tourism is the only industry.

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