ADDRESSING OVER 50 top industrialists from across the country, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Tuesday painted a rosy picture of Bengal, which is power surplus and witnesses no strikes.
At the CII National Council meeting, Mamata described Bengal as not only the gateway to eastern India but also to other Asian countries with Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal, which can be reached within an hour. “Other destinations like Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur could be reached within a few hours from Bengal,” she added.
Speaking about the ease of business in Bengal, the CM added: “Our government has a land bank, a land policy and a land map. We have cleared about 7,500 acres for industry. The state is power surplus and there are no strikes unlike during the previous government’s tenure.”
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Mamata claimed that when compared to the Centre, Bengal is doing much better. “In the last four years, gross value added in the state has been 10.48 per cent, while the countrywide figure was 7.5. In the agriculture and forest sectors, while Bengal’s growth has been 6.46 per cent, for India, it was 1.1,” she said.
“In the industrial sector, while India’s growth has been 5.6 per cent, Bengal stood at 8.34. In the service sector, while the national figure was 10.9, for Bengal it was 12.12. Moreover, while India’s per capita income is 6.1 per cent, Bengal has achieved 12.48 per cent,” she added.
Mamata also claimed that between 2011 when Trinamool Congress came to power and 2015, the state has seen an expenditure growth of 311 per cent. “Within this period, while social infrastructure investment growth has touched 301 per cent, agri and rural development expenditure has been 547 per cent, physical expenditure investment 330 per cent and capital expenditure 601 per cent,” she said.
The CM added that between 2011 and 2015, investment and commitment towards the same, has been more than Rs 2 lakh crore. “You come here and if there is any problem, we will sort it out,” she told the gathering.
Taking a dig at the the previous Left Front regime, Mamata said: “They were champions of strike and did nothing except call bandhs… The current government is carrying a legacy of debt from the Left.” She also accused the Centre of double standards.”Some parties, while they will say something at the Centre, they will say something else in the state,” she added.
Among the industrialists present, Sanjiv Goenka, chairman of RP-Saniv Goenka Group and ITC chief Y C Deveshwar showered praises on Mamata.
Deveshwar claimed Mamata’s leadership has transformed Bengal. “You are a barefoot leader. You are a leader of the masses. You have a golden heart but nerves of steel because it is not easy to govern a state like West Bengal. There are great opportunities. These are hard-headed businessmen. They know one thing… the per capita income figure that you gave should show everybody that if you are closest to the market, the early bird will catch the worm… The leadership here is passionate about development and whoever comes here first, will get the opportunity,” the industrialist said.
“My experience of operating in the state has been outstanding. I can tell you from my experience of working in other states that this chief minister is probably the best chief minister that India has… I will urge you to come here, invest and see for yourself… Otherwise it will be an opportunity lost,” Goenka said.
However, later on the sidelines of the event, he said: “Just having land is not enough. The location of the land and how it connects to the rest of the country is also very important.”
Among other industry heads present on the occasion were Rajive Kaul, Viresh Oberoi, Sanjiv Bajaj, Harshvardhan Neotia and Sanjay Budhia. When Pawan Goenka, executive director of Mahindra and Mahindra, asked Mamata about the state’s land policy, the CM replied: “We have a land bank.”