THE ITC Wednesday unveiled three projects in West Bengal involving an investment of Rs 3,000 crore as Chief Minister Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee stressed on the need to cooperate with the industry to take the state on progress path.
“Let us not disturb the industry. Let us fully cooperate with them. When the world is moving ahead, Bengal cannot afford to sit back. Collective interest is bigger than individual interest,” Mamata said after laying the foundation stone of an integrated consumer goods manufacturing unit at Panchla in Howrah and an IT Park at Rajarhat near Kolkata. Mamata also pre-commissioned another consumer goods manufacturing facility at Uluberia, also at Howrah.
Assuring ITC Chairman Y C Deveshwar that her government would provide “any cooperation necessary” for more such projects in the future, the Chief Minister said West Bengal had over one lakh acres in terms of land bank which could be made available for industrial development.
“All we need is the demand. If you ask us for land for your projects, you will have it,” Mamata claimed.
“We will have to do this for the good of the state…Once a big industry comes, many ancillary units also come up creating jobs for the youth,” she said, adding that that government was “happy to collaborate wit an agro-based industry”.
Pointing to the growing per capita income of the state, Mamata said, “Bengal is an agriculture-driven state. Setting up food processing units is naturally the next step for us. Once these units come up, ancillary industries will also follow. Bengal is witnessing a growth of 10.5 per cent which is far higher than the national growth of 7.5 per cent. The per capita income has doubled and we have recorded an infrastructure growth of 600 per cent and development growth of 300 per cent.”
While agreeing that the growing per capita income should attract industry to Bengal, the ITC Chairman also admitted that the state government was unable to provide the group with contiguous plots. “We had asked for 60 acres, but we got 40 acres at one place and another 18 acres at another. If we want to expand and increase production, it is more beneficial to get contiguous plots. For instance, we want to set up a cold chain and start manufacturing frozen foods. Right now we simply don’t have the land for that,” said Deveshwar, adding that if its gets better opportunities elsewhere, the group would expand outside the state.
While Mamata thanked ITC for not shifting its headquarters from Kolkata, Deveshwar said, “The ITC Group had its headquarters in Kolkata since 1910. But only three of our present 12 Bengal units existed in the state till five years ago. The rest have come up in Mamata Banerjee’s tenure and we are extremely grateful to the CM and her government for facilitating this.”
ITC would engage more with the farmers of the state, Deveshwar said, adding that it was experimenting with the manufacture of a special variety of seeds, which will not absorb moisture. The company is also developing a special kind of potato seeds as well.
The integrated consumer goods manufacturing facility at Panchla is spread over 800,000 feet and will manufacture packaged food, including noodles and potato chips, and is expected to be commissioned by January next year.
The facility at Uluberia is being built over 400,000 square feet and is likely to be completed by May 2016.
The IT park at Rajarhat will come up in phases over 27 lakh square feet of built up space. The project to be completed by 2018, will create direct employment for 5,000 people.
The ITC is further developing a Royal Bengal hotel next to the Shonar Bangla hotel in Kolkata. With an investment of Rs 1000 crores, the new hotel is set to be ready by the end of next year.