Nano gets job norm 'waiver'

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 5.01.09
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Ahmedabad, Jan. 5: Raj Thackeray would not approve, but the Gujarat government is understood to have set aside a key policy decision protecting local labour to get the Tatas to set up the Nano plant in Sanand.

An official document prepared for a cabinet discussion says the government has, as a “special exception”, waived the clause laying down 85 per cent local employment for setting up industries in Gujarat. Under the policy, at least 60 per cent of the recruitment in managerial and supervisory positions would have to be set aside for locals. This too has been waived, according to the note put up for cabinet discussion.

“This package is to be considered as a special exception and other similar industries will not be eligible for the same incentives,” says the document.

Government officials refused to confirm or deny that any such benefit had been given, but a source close to a cabinet minister said the contents of the document were “correct”.

Tata Motors spokesman Debasis Ray questioned the “veracity” of the document and refused to comment on whether the company would comply with the labour policy of the state. All Ray said was that the Nano project was likely to generate 10,000 jobs, direct and indirect.

The reported waiver has not gone down too well with the Surat diamond industry, hit hard by the global slowdown and left to fend for itself by the government. Around 30 per cent of the 6,000 cutting and polishing units in Surat have not reopened since the Diwali vacation as the orders from the US and Europe have dried up.

Former Surat mayor Fakir Chauhan, who is spearheading the agitation by diamond workers seeking job security or unemployment allowance, said the government had been partial to Tata Motors which did not have to comply with the local labour policy, but had been “step-motherly” in its treatment of the diamond industry which employs over 10 lakh workers in the state.

“If the Tatas could be given huge concessions, the diamond industry should also be given similar incentives,” said Chauhan.

The government’s industrial policy unveiled today remains silent on the appeals of the diamond hub, which has been clamouring for a 50 per cent subsidy in power tariff.

Sujit Gulati, principal secretary, industries, said: “There is nothing that the state government can do about it. Diamond is an export-oriented industry. We, on our part, have already done our bit. Diamond is the only industry on which we have not levied four per cent VAT.”