Marcus Dam

Company evaluating alternative options

Kolkata: Tata Motors Limited on Tuesday announced suspension of work at its small car manufacturing plant at Singur in West Bengal’s Hooghly district.

The company “has been constrained to suspend the construction and commissioning work at the Nano plant at Singur in view of continued confrontation and agitation at the site,” a statement issued by Tata Motors said.

“In view of the current situation, the company is evaluating alternative options for manufacturing the Nano car at other company facilities and a detailed plan to relocate the plant and machinery to an alternative site is under preparation”, the statement said.

“The decision was taken in order to ensure the safety of its employees and contract labour … The company has assessed the prevailing situation at Singur after five continuous days of cancellation of work and believes that there is no change in the volatile situation around the plant,” it added.

The Tata Motors’ announcement came when the agitation, led by the Trinamool Congress outside the site demanding the return of 400 acres of land which it alleges had been acquired forcibly for setting up the project, entered its tenth day.

“The situation around the Nano plant continues to be hostile and intimidating. There is no way this plant could operate efficiently unless the environment became congenial and supportive of the project. We came to West Bengal hoping we could add value, prosperity and create job opportunities in the communities in the State,” a Tata Motors spokesperson said.

“The existing environment of obstruction, intimidation and confrontation has begun to impact the ability of the company to convince several of its experienced managers to relocate and work in the plant. Further, several persons engaged in the construction and commissioning work who had taken accommodation at Singur and nearby areas have since vacated and gone away due to intimidation and fear,” the statement said.

Bad news: Minister

Nirupam Sen, the State’s Industries Minister, described the development “as very unfortunate and very bad news for West Bengal.”

“The decision is an internal matter of the Tatas,” Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee said.

“We have not obstructed anyone, nor stopped work at the Tata Motors project. We cannot do anything if workers do not turn up for work,” Ms. Banerjee has been claiming.

Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee held a meeting with Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi and sought his personal mediation to end the stalemate at Singur.

Mr. Gandhi is reportedly considering the request.

Construction at the project site, comprising the car’s manufacturing facilities and the vendor park, commenced in January 2007.

Work has been nearing completion in line with planned schedules.

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