September 26, 2008

Don't leave West Bengal: Buddha urges Tata

NEW DELHI: West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has written to Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata urging him not to shift the Nano car project from Singur. The chief minister in his letter to Ratan Tata said no more disruptions will occur. “We assure you of police protection,” he said.
The letter is seen as the last-ditch effort by Buddhadeb to salvage the Nano car project. The West Bengal government is awaiting Ratan Tata’s response. West Bengal Industries Minister Nirupam Sen said the state government was trying its best to retain the Nano project in Singur. The letter by the chief minister was sent after yesterday’s decision at the state cabinet meet to appeal to both the Tatas to implement the project here as well as to the opposition to cooperate in the interest of the state.
On Thursday, Trinamool Congress said it was willing for further talks on Singur issue if Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi takes an initiative for this. "We had responded to the invitation for talks on Singur in the past. The Governor is the constitutional head. We will go every time he calls us," Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee told a public meeting here. Without responding to the state cabinet's appeal for cooperation, she said "if the government really wants the Tata Motors unit to come up at Singur, why did it not operationalise the (September 7) agreement? The government took recourse to a canard against us, although we are for both industry and agriculture". Trinamool Congress did not ask the Tata Motors to leave Singur, she said. "Let both agriculture and industry smile." She said the state government and CPM were claiming that the September 7 agreement was a 'declaration' and not an accord. "They are cheating us. They have also insulted the Governor by violating the agreement", she charged. Reading out the copy of 'agreement', she said that her party was ready for a 'land-based solution'. She also said the industry should purchase land and added "why should land be acquired forcefully?"
Meanwhile truckloads of material have started rolling out of the Singur Nano factory, a sign that Tata Motors is on an exit route from West Bengal. There has, however, been no formal communication from the company so far.
According to reports, Tata engineers had dismantled dies and other "key fixtures unique to the Nano" from Singur and started moving them to an undisclosed location a few days back. Pending a final decision, the company could either roll out its first Nano from its Pantnagar or its Pune facility. The Rs 1 lakh car was scheduled to hit the road in October and Tata wants to stick to that deadline. But as an official said, the situation in Singur "was not conducive to work". It is believed that the Tatas are likely to announce their final decision on the matter by this weekend.

26 Sep 2008,
1401 hrs IST,

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