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Since 1st March, 1999
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Tata flies into ‘great’ news
Tata and Santoso

Calcutta, Aug. 9: Ratan Tata liked what he saw, Benny Santoso will like to see before giving a firm commitment.

Two investors whose projects have unwittingly become test cases for Bengal’s industrial clawback landed in Calcutta on the same day today by coincidence.

Ratan Tata is in the city to attend Tata Tea’s annual general meeting tomorrow. Santoso, the executive director of the Indonesia-based Salim Group, made the first trip to the city since the Nandigram flare-up to discuss with chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee the shifting of a chemical project to another site.

The Salim Group has “conditionally” accepted the proposal to shift the venue but a final decision will depend on the outcome of feasibility studies. The government has hired a consultant, Mott McDonald, to shortlist a few sites. ( )

Tata, whose small-car project is coming up at a Singur site that once in a while gets caught in cat-and-mouse games between anti-land-acquisition activists and police, chose a good day to touch down.

“Do you mean work went on despite the strike'” Tata asked this evening at the lobby of a city hotel, told that Wednesday’s shutdown in the unorganised sector did not halt construction in Singur.

When Tata learnt that around 350-odd workers affiliated to Citu turned up for work that went on uninterrupted, he smiled and said: “That’s great.”

Asked if he was satisfied that the work was progressing apace despite the trouble the Rs 1,500-crore project ran into, Tata was a little cautious. “Well, we still have a long way to go.”

Tata Motors is racing against time to roll out the first car from the Singur plant by the second half of 2008. Initial delay in handing over the plot, the subsequent political storm and strong monsoon that sometimes prevented construction had affected the schedule at various stages.

But Tata reiterated his commitment to the state. “I think we made the right decision to come to Bengal and invest in the state. I hope nothing is spoiled,” he said.

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