Criticising the Centre's move to allow 51 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in the retail sector, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday said her government would not allow it in the State.

“We will not accept such FDI in the retail sector here. We cannot allow the livelihood of small traders as well as our farmers to be undermined,” Ms. Banerjee said in Howrah.

“Our party [Trinamool Congress] has already expressed its objections to the decision to allow 51 per cent foreign direct investment in the retail sector. About 5 crore people, nearly half the population of this State, are involved in one way or another with the sector. They will all be affected,” Ms. Banerjee said.

“There are small, medium and vegetable retail outlets in the sector and we cannot approve of any decision that will cause hardships to those engaged there.”

Better coordination

The Chief Minister earlier held a meeting to review the progress of various developmental activities in Howrah district with officials at various levels of the district administration. She underlined the need for greater coordination among the various departments to expedite development work.

Several Ministers of her Cabinet, along with State Chief Secretary Samar Ghosh, were present at the meeting, which was part of Ms. Banerjee's plan to interact directly with the local authorities across the State and review the pace of development in the different districts.

The Chief Minister reviewed flood protection measures in the district and said the Damodar Valley Corporation must incorporate better planning and greater modernisation in its activities to increase the capacity of their reservoirs and thus reduce the discharge of water during heavy rains in the catchment areas, which often led to large areas in the district becoming inundated.

Road maintenance

Ms. Banerjee told reporters after the meeting that her government would be taking up the matter of better maintenance and improving road conditions with the National Highway authorities.

Also discussed at the meeting was the setting up of six industrial clusters in Howrah district, with an emphasis on new small and medium industries, and plans for a medical college in Uluberia.

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