Special Correspondent

Modi orders probe into leak of details

A sellout: Congress

Challenges Modi to debate on project

AHMEDABAD: The Narendra Modi government is reported to have offered over Rs. 30,000 crore in sops to Tata Motors to bring its Nano car project to Gujarat.

The government has agreed to not only provide a soft loan of Rs. 9,570 crore at a negligible interest of 0.1 per cent for setting up the project but also defer repayment for 20 years, besides initially meeting all the cost of infrastructure development, cut in power tariff rates and an expenditure of Rs. 700 crore on shifting machinery and equipment from Singur in West Bengal to Sanand.

While the Chief Minister’s office refused to give details of the October 7 agreement signed between the government and Tata Motors, an official document submitted to the Cabinet for approval was leaked to the media, bringing to light the concessions offered to the company to bring the “prestigious” project to Gujarat.

Mr. Modi has reportedly ordered an inquiry into the leakage of the document.

But Pradesh Congress president Siddhartha Patel and the former Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, Arjun Modhvadia, said their “inquiry” with official sources proved that the leaked information was “authentic.”

“It is a complete sellout and will not be acceptable to the people of Gujarat,” the leaders said.

They, however, have no plan to launch an agitation. “We will consider what the Congress can do to salvage the situation in the best interest of the people, but the party is not for blocking the passage of the Nano project. Ratan Tata is a worthy son of Gujarat and is welcome to set up five factories instead of one, but he must do business at his own cost and not at the expense of the people of the State,” Mr. Patel said.

He said that in the party’s calculations, the deferred repayment of loan and various tax concessions would benefit the Tatas to the tune of over Rs 30,000 crore in the next 20 years. Considering that during this period the Tatas would produce about 50 lakh Nano cars at the promised cost of Rs. 1 lakh each, the burden on the exchequer would be Rs. 60,000 for each car rolled out, Mr. Patel pointed out.

According to the document, the government has granted exemption even from payment of a stamp duty of Rs. 20 crore for 1,100 acres of land given at a subsidised price of Rs. 400.65 crore, which is to be paid in eight equal instalments at an eight per cent compound interest with a moratorium of two years. There will be no charge for transferring the land from agriculture to non-agricultural purposes and no registration fee. The government will meet the entire infrastructure cost of developing roads, electricity and gas supply as well as providing an additional 100 acres on the outskirts of Ahmedabad to build a township for employees.

Accusing Mr. Modi of compromising the interests of the people for his “personal publicity,” Mr. Patel asked: “Is Nano the only project to give a boost to the industrial development of the State?” Questioning the government’s bid to keep the details under wraps in the name of “trade secrets,” Mr. Modhvadia challenged Mr. Modi to discuss the “benefits” of the Nano project for the people of the State at any platform of his choice.

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