Chief minister Mamata Banerjee, who inaugurated a Rs 615-crore cement plant of OCL India at Salboni on Monday, renewed her demand for a waiver of interest on West Bengal’s huge debt burden.
Banerjee said her government had not asked for anything in the railway and general budgets. “A new government has come. We want it to waive the interest on the loans. If it is not done, we will launch an intensified movement (against the Centre),” Banerjee added.
Asking why her government should be made to suffer because of huge loans taken by the previous government, the chief minister said: “Rs 1 lakh crore has been deducted from the state’s coffers for loan repayment. Every year the amount is rising.” Banerjee also said the acute fund crunch was posing difficulties in carrying out development.
On her upcoming Singapore visit to bring foreign investments to the state, Banerjee said representatives of various chambers of commerce would accompany her on the trip. Banerjee said the Midnapore region had huge investment potential and added that the government had a 1,000-acre land bank at Goaltore in West Midnapore that could be used for industrialisation. Banerjee said all Sec 14Y applications, which required land ceiling clearance for plots larger than 24 acres, had been cleared.
“The state has a proposed investment of Rs 1.2 lakh crore, which has huge job creation potential. There are 35,000 MSME units in the state employing 3.5 lakh persons,” she said. Banerjee said the state witnessed zero lost mandays as compared to 78 lakh during the Left era, adding that the government was opposed to bandhs and closure.
She claimed that despite the Centre’s deduction of Rs 1 lakh crore as debt and interest payment, the state was growing. “We should work with a positive mindset and grow peacefully,” she said. Director of OCL India Puneet Dalmia said they were initially apprehensive about coming to West Bengal. “But we are happy to be here. Everything worked out well,” he said. The plant will have a capacity of 2 million tonnes per annum.
The CM also distributed Rs 3 lakh each to 30 families of Jangal Mahal whose male members were killed by Maoists. Despite repeated meetings with the previous UPA government for a three-year moratorium on repayment of debt, the TMC government had failed to exact any assurance.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and then BJP president had accused the CPI(M) of rseducing West Bengal’s economy to a state of bankruptcy during a rally here in February. Singh had also supported Banerjee’s demand for the moratorium and urged the UPA government to accept the demand.