Talk of land, incentives, roadblocks

On the second day of Bengal Leads, the industrial summit organised by the West Bengal government in Haldia, industrialists questioned various policies that allegedly stood in the way of quick implementation of projects in the state.

At a seminar on "Manufacturing Industries, Prospects and Growth in West Bengal", Rajeev Mehta, executive president of Ultratech Cement Ltd, asked the government to go for process rationalisation in giving clearance to projects.

"The largest roadblock comes in the case of land registration and mutation. Sometimes clearances take 2-3 years," Mehta said.

On the other hand, Anil Dhawan, executive director of SAIL, rued how their project at Burnpur had got stuck because they could not take possession of about 500 acres.

Vivek Agnihotri, Business Head East, Ambuja Cement Ltd, asked the government to relax the scope of giving business incentives to industrial houses. "The state government has linked incentive disbursement to employment generation. But there are capital incentive industries which do not generate much employment. We need incentives that are provided in other states," he said.

Minister for Commerce and Industries Partha Chatterjee maintained that mere incentives could not bring investment. "We are giving all facilities and in exchange we expect them to provide employment to people. And it is not just incentives, what we are providing is a hassle-free system where you get all support," Chatterjee said.

He reiterated that land was not an issue. "You buy land, and if you face problems we will help you. Those who have excess land above the ceiling should get it regularised," Chatterjee said.

In Haldia alone, 40-45 acres has been left unused. Haldia Development Authority has written to 15 companies holding the land since 2008 to return it, P Ulaganathan, CEO of HDA, said.

Chatterjee rubbished the government's critics, saying, "There has been an overwhelming response to the event. The panel discussions are full of delegates. SAIL is investing Rs 24,000 crore. Electrosteel is also investing Rs 200 crore. There are 222 proposals with investment of Rs 1.9 lakh crore," he said.

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