April 3, 2009

April 9 date for FAW team visit

KOLKATA: The Nano dream is buried. But hope still flickers in Singur. With Tata Motors pulling out of Bengal, the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government is gearing up for a meeting with a delegation from the Chinese automobile major, First Automobile Works (FAW). The team will arrive in the city on April 9.
The five-member FAW delegation's visit to the city is actually a follow-up exercise. In November last year, a team of company officials met the chief minister. FAW has already signed an agreement with Ural India, an Indo-Russian joint venture company, in which the WBIDC has 11% stake. Last week, state commerce and industries secretary Sabyasachi Sen had been to the FAW car factory in China and inspected the truck assembly line. Sen also held talks with FAW officials over their investment opportunities in Bengal, particularly in the small car, bus and truck segment.
The proposed small car (with engine capacity of 700 cc to 800 cc) would cost between Rs 1.6 lakh and 2 lakh. On Thursday, Ural India's chairman J K Saraf will meet the chief minister to do the groundwork for the proposed meet with FAW top brass. FAW officials are likely to visit the abandoned Nano compound in Singur next week. The CM does not want to miss the opportunity this time. In fact, the commerce and industries secretary is likely to submit a detailed report on the FAW assembly line so that the government can explore the possibility of setting up such a facility in Singur.
For, the FAW team is not interested in alternative sites at Kharagpur and Kalyani. The official said that FAW was also keen on setting up a plant in Haldia, close to the Ural factory, which is now manufacturing trucks and other heavy vehicles for the army and police, along with dumpers. Ural director Aniruddh Kanoi, who had been to China to meet FAW officials, said they are willing to go for truck, bus and small car factories in Bengal. "If the plot is big enough, bus, truck and small car can be produced from the same place."
The company has already had similar offers from other states, including Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Haryana. "The proposed support from the end of the Bengal government can only help us to decide the destination," Kanoi said. FAW is ready to invest Rs 1,500 crore for their auto factory.

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