August 29, 2010

We regret not being able to do what we wanted to do, says Ratan Tata

By Indrani Dutta

Kolkata: West Bengal is very much a part of the Tata group's identity, said Tata Sons chairman Ratan Tata on Monday, regretting that it could not do what it wanted to do in the State.

Mr. Tata was in the State on the occasion of the annual general meeting of the group company Tata Global Beverages (formerly Tata Tea). In response to a query whether the Tata group was planning to leave the city, he said: “We have not exited Calcutta. Our visits may be less. But we have a very warm feeling for this part of the country.”

The Cancer Centre which is coming up at New Town in Rajarhat in East Kolkata is likely to be dedicated to the people this year. “We hope it will save many lives,” he said.

He scotched rumours that investment in the State was being curtailed: “We have not changed our views in terms of investments. In fact we have increased our investment in the hospital and I hope that before the hospital comes up, those elements in Calcutta that may feel alien towards us will understand that we are still very much Indian and West Bengal is very much a part of our total corporate identity.”

Mr. Tata had a 45-minute session with West Bengal Governor M. K. Narayanan at Raj Bhavan. He also visited the Cancer Centre.

After the Tata Tea AGM in 2009 he had addressed a hurriedly convened joint press meet with State Industry Minister Nirupam Sen to reiterate that all other group investments were on track. The shareholders' fresh apprehension stems from the fact that the erstwhile Tata Tea has shifted its operational base to Bangalore. “We started in Calcutta, our head office remains in Calcutta.” he said.

Asked why the company was continuing with its listing at the Calcutta Stock Exchange, he said: “It is a respect for our roots. Our presence in the Calcutta Stock Exchange is a mark of respect to the place where we began. We do notice that there is little or no transaction but that listing we will keep.”
Since the announcement of relocation of the Nano project to Gujarat in 2008 following violent protests led by Trinamool Congress over land acquisition, the Tata Sons chief has had to reassure the State's people time and again about the group's abiding interest in West Bengal as an investment destination.

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