Narayanan at Bengal Leads on Thursday. Picture by Jahangir Badsa
Haldia, Jan. 17: Governor M.K. Narayanan today echoed investors and said industrial relations “clearly need more attention”.
“I am on the side of investors on one point. I entirely agree that industrial relations clearly need more attention. It is vitally important to create a sense of confidence among industrialists,” Narayanan said.
The governor’s comments, however, were general in nature when he spoke at the valedictory session of Bengal Leads 2013.
As the governor’s stress on industrial relations comes a little over two months after Haldia Bulk Terminals announced its exit from Haldia citing “unsafe work conditions”, some in the audience thought he may have been referring to the fiasco.
“The message that went out after the HBT incident was damaging for the state…. Probably, the governor wanted to remind the state government about the need to take action so that such incidents are not repeated,” said a senior executive of a Mumbai-based petrochemical company operating in Haldia.
Poor industrial relations have often been blamed for the decline of industry in the state, which started during the militant trade unionism by the Left. Recent developments at Haldia — and several other places in the state — proved that Trinamul-backed trade unions were following the tradition.
A senior state government official ruled out the possibility of Narayanan — who had recently embarrassed the government by describing the events in the state in the past few days as a “kind of goondaism” — chiding the administration in today’s speech.
“The fact that the governor accepted the invitation to take part in the valedictory session is an indication that he doesn’t want to embarrass the government any more. Ideally, as the constitutional head of the state, he should have been present at the inauguration,” the official said.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee presided over the inauguration of the summit, which many believe was held in Haldia to deflect attention from the HBT episode.
The content of the governor’s speech indicated that he took care to steer clear of any comment that may stoke another round of controversy.
“It is not too often that a governor is invited to speak at the valedictory session of such an event. I do so because I believe in Bengal and its future and I hope all of you do so,” Narayanan said.
He toed the government line on the contentious issue of the hands-off land policy, which many believe has slammed the brakes on industrialisation in the state.
“The state government acknowledges that land acquisition is a major issue. It engages the mind of prospective investors and industrialists as also the state government, I might mention. A manifest effort hence will be made to locate available land suitable for industries,” Narayanan said.
He may have been echoing what Mamata has said several times by inviting captains of industry to set up units in some barren parts of the state in Bankura, Purulia and West Midnapore.
“Both the government and the industrialists will need, however, to be judicious in their quest for suitable land since it is often difficult to acquire agricultural land… a joint effort by the state and the entrepreneurs is therefore called for,” Narayanan said.