West Bengal govt's land policy affected industrial climate in 2012

West bengal

After a historical victory on the plank of Maa-Maati-Manush (mother-land-people), the Trinamool Congress government grappled with major economic issues during the year, which experts say, would warrant dramatic reversal of policies on issues such as land acquisition.

It is felt the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's emphasis on a rigid land policy has pleased the farming community but not the industry.

Banerjee's consistent tirade as the Opposition leader against Tata Motors' Nano plant at Singur, which was finally cancelled, had its impact on investor confidence in the state.

It would have required a turnaround in the policy of the incumbent state government to woo investments by convincing farmers on the need to have a simultaneous growth in industry along with agriculture.

Induction of industry-savvy former secretary general Ficci Amit Mitra as Finance Minister fuelled hopes of industrial revival during the year after Banerjee came to power in May 2011, endin0g the 34-year old Left rule.

In August 2012, the state government formed a panel of Group of ministers (GoM) to formulate a new industrial investment policy for West Bengal. Besides Mitra, the panel included Industry Minister Partha Chatterjee and Labour Minister Purnendu Bose.

Banerjee also announced that a new policy that would focus on IT and NRIs.

Besides, she said a decision had been taken to set up two deep sea ports, in Sagar and Rasulpur and that global tenders would be floated for both of the them.

Industrialists apprehend the government's emphasis that there would be no forcible acquisition of land and industry would have to directly purchase from land owners, could slow down investments to a trickle.

Success of the proposed investments by companies like Jai Balaji Steel, Bhusan Steel, NTPC (Katwa power project) and Kulpi port, that would involve investments of over Rs 40,000 crore, will hinge on a industrial-friendly policy, they say.

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