Special Correspondent

KOLKATA: Commercial production of Tata Motors’ ‘Nano’ automobile is expected to begin in October to be preceded by trial production of the car in June-July, Ravi Kant, Managing Director, Tata Motors, said after a visit to the project site at Singur in West Bengal’s Hooghly district on Wednesday.

“We have always maintained that we will launch the vehicle in the second half of the next financial year 2008-09,” Mr. Kant said. He was looking at “around the Durga Puja time” in October for commercial production to begin.

Mr. Kant expressed satisfaction with the progress of work after his three-hour visit to the site and said: “We hope that things go on barring very unforeseen circumstances like the rains.

“There are certainly lots of challenges but we — the Shapporji Pallonji Group, Tata Motors and the West Bengal government — are working together and putting an action plan to ensure that the start of production is not hampered.”

He inspected the press shop, paint shop, assembly and engine shops which he described later as “priority areas.” He also pointed out that “it was a low-lying area and we require a lot of lifting of the floor, lot of earth filling and dredging of the canal which have to be done.”

“A lot of work has been done… we will try to finish everything before the trial production which we expect to be in June-July this year,” Mr. Kant said.

“Everything takes time to sort out — the whole flow has to come right from the press shop, all the vendors’ materials have to come and test tracks built. So it will be a very coordinated activity.”

The leadership of the Trinamool Congress, which has been opposing the project, has reiterated that its movement would continue till peasants were returned the land “forcibly acquired” for the project.

Tata Motors had initiated preliminary steps for construction at the site in January 2007.

‘Nano’, its Rs.1 lakh “people’s car,” was unveiled by Ratan Tata, Chairman, Tata Groups, in New Delhi on January 10.