Attracting a financial commitment of over Rs.2.4 lakh crore, and promising to generate more than a crore jobs, the West Bengal government’s two-day Bengal Global Business Summit ended on Jan 8, 2015, with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee terming tourism, manufacturing and IT as the focus areas.
“Don’t underestimate Bengal… Yesterday and today, it (financial commitment) is about Rs.2,43,000 crore,” Banerjee said on the concluding day of the investors’ conclave where over 1,000 delegates from 20 countries participated.
“This investment of Rs.2,43,000 crore alone can create more than one crore employment opportunities over the next three years,” she said in her closing remarks.
However, the chief minister said the commitment may cross Rs.3 lakh crore if all proposals are signed.
The chief minister said both state-owned PSUs and the shipping ministry as well as private companies have shown interest in investing in Bengal.
State-owned SAIL has given a commitment of Rs.30,000 crore, while the ministry of shipping, road transport and highways committed Rs.41,600 crore for a series of projects. NTPC has also committed Rs.20,000 crore, she said.
Indian private sector commitments came from Essel group (Rs.20,000 crore), while Singapore-based Suvarna group has committed Rs.1,000 crore and Capital Singapore’s commitment amounts to Rs.2,500 crore.
Also, the YK Modi group has shown interest of Rs.1,500 crore, a proposed solar power plant in Sonarpur is poised to generate Rs.1,275 crore, Forum group’s investment is in the range of Rs.4,000 crore, Mani group’s commitment totals Rs.2,500 crore followed by several others.
“Everything is available in Bengal. You just do your business with a heart,” she said.
Banerjee said the manufacturing sector was a focus area for Bengal and steps would be taken to enable smooth functioning of the industry in the state.
She also highlighted the thrust on the tourism sector, announcing that the Hiranandani group was investing Rs.5,100 crore in Digha, a traditional favourite weekend getaway among the locals, while the hospitality major Mayfair Group has committed Rs.1,200 crore.
The government was laying special emphasis on cultural tourism, heritage tourism and homestay tourism to boost the eco-tourism sector.
Bengal Aerotropolis Projects Ltd. (BAPL) and the SCOMI Group of Malaysia inked an agreement worth Rs.1,000 crore for setting up a Mass Rapid Transport Manufacturing Hub (MRTMH) service – in the airport city at Andal of Burdwan district – that will produce public transport buses and coaches for metro and monorail services.
Two air carriers – Pinnacle Air and Go Air – have expressed interest to launch airline operation connecting Andal with regional airports as also national capital Delhi.
As part of efforts to reach out to the maximum number of young businesses, Nasscom’s 10,000 start-ups programme inked a partnership with the state government to open its second warehouse in Kolkata.
Industry captains taking part in the conclave said the state had the potential to become industrially advanced, and came out with suggestions ranging from better marketing to focusing on key sectors like defence and automobiles.
Participating in breakaway sessions on various sectors like manufacturing, healthcare, tourism, industry captains and government officials also enumerated the various proposals received during the summit.
Tractors India Pvt. Ltd chairman Sumit Mazumdar, who co-chaired the session on manufacturing, called for better marketing of the state with emphasis on defence, railways, and automobiles.
ITC executive director Kurush Grant, who chaired the session on the sector, called for declaring animal husbandry, poultry and fisheries as primarily agricultural produce.
The chief minister reiterated her stand of mutual coexistence of industry and agriculture but ruled out any forcible acquisition of land for industry and creation of Special Economic Zones.
However, countering allegations that her government’s hands-off policy in land acquisition was hindering industrial development, she said land was “easily available” throughout the state.
She announced a small core group will be formed to actualise the investment proposals and promised to review the progress of the projects and agreements after three months.
However, the opposition was not impressed.
Leader of Opposition and CPI-M politburo member Surya Kanta Mishra said the industry would not come to the state so long Banerjee was in power, as it was because of her that the Tatas had to abort their plans to roll out the Nano small car plant from Singur.