The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Small car punctures condom plans
- Acquisition forces Singur factory to pack up before opening

Calcutta, Sept. 12: Along with farmers on vast tracts of Singur, an industrial unit built there with foreign collaboration has also been asked to pack up to make room for Tata Motors.

Kailash Richter Rubber Tech, a joint venture between Malaysia’s Richter Hi-Tech and BA Jain & Co, has been served a notice by the government to hand over the four acres that it now holds.

Construction of the plant, which would produce condoms, is 80 per cent complete and commercial operations were to begin by October-end.

The joint venture had been formalised in August 2004 and construction in the Singherbheri mouza, some 50 km from Calcutta, began a year later.

However, in the final stages of the work, the company has been told that their plot is essential for a greater good.

“The land is to be taken for public purpose, viz. employment generation and socio- economic development by set-ting up the Tata small-car project,” says the September 1 notification.

Representatives of the company appeared for a hearing at the Hooghly district magistrate’s office on August 31 and submitted their objections to the acquisition, only to be informed a day later that they will have to vacate the land on which the condom factory is coming up.

“We are at a loss as construction activity has been stopped. Our foreign partner is also disturbed by the developments. We sought the district magistrate’s intervention but have been told that there is no option but to shift,” a director of the company said.

Klaus Richter, the managing director of Richter Hi-Tech, wrote to the government: “We have been working on this project for the past two years and it is on the verge of completion. The machines are ready…. We seek your kind intervention to get our factory excluded from the acquisition zone.”

Asked about the fate of the condom factory, commer-ce and industries department secretary Sabyasachi Sen told The Telegraph: “We are aware of the problem the proposed condom manufacturing company is faced with. But the only solution in sight is relocation. We will extend all possible help to get the unit shifted to another place. We will also try to relocate it to a nearby location, if possible.”

A Kailash Richter official said it had planned to manufacture six million condoms every month and gradually raise production levels based on demand.

Sen said even if ousted from its original location, the company would be compensated for its land and the constructed portion.

“I am not aware of the exact land price compensation but it could be in the region of about Rs 8 lakh a bigha (three bighas make an acre). Besides, the company will also be compensated for the manufacturing unit that has been constructed in Singur,” said the industries secretary.

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