Special Correspondent

“Nandigram and Singur have sent a wrong message”

Government trying to erase past mistakes: CM

Kolkata: West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee on Wednesday said the State was planning to formulate a land acquisition and rehabilitation policy on the lines of the Central policy, the draft of which has been circulated among the States.

He was delivering a special address to the national executive members of the Federation of the Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

“We face a difficult Opposition here and we need to move cautiously,” he said adding that even if all the industrial investment proposals now before the government were implemented, only one lakh acres of the 1 crore 35 lakh acres of agricultural land in the State would get converted for industrial use.

Admitting that Nandigram and Singur had sent a wrong message about the State, Mr. Bhattacharjee said there was no alternative to gradual increase in number of industries in the State while maintaining food security. “There is no other way for employment generation,” he said.

He said the government was trying to be investor-friendly and was also trying to erase its past mistakes.

To a question, he said that it was almost impossible to take over the land of closed industries for setting up industry, since either these lands were litigated or there were problems with the bankers. “We can’t touch them.”

He said when industrial units had surplus land they were allowed to utilise it, as had been the case with Hindustan Motors and Bata. “Tea gardens are also allowed to use their land for tea tourism,” he said.

Global crisis

On the global economic crisis, he said it was essential for government to play a positive role to face it. “I think the statement that the government has no business in business is an extreme position,” Mr. Bhattacharjee said.

On the reported move by the BIMSTEC to set up a deep-sea port at Chittagong, Mr. Bhattacharjee said he would find out about this during his next interaction with External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee and would take up the matter with the Prime Minister if necessary, since a deep sea port proposal in West Bengal has been pending with the Centre for sometime.