Tatas swear by West Bengal

Tatas may use Singur land for different purpose.

By R Chandrasekaran

CHENNAI: India’s biggest business conglomerate Tata group has indicated that it is still interested in investing in West Bengal despite shifting of manufacturing base of its much talked about small car project a few years back following the road blocks it faced in acquiring land.

Chairman of Tata Sons and Tata Global Beverages Cyrus Mistry had assured the shareholders that the group will not desert West Bengal. “Tatas have never left West Bengal. We will never leave West Bengal as a group,” he told the shareholders.

The comments from Tata Sons assume significance in the wake of Supreme Court’s order to Tata Motors to spell out its stand on the leasehold rights of the land acquired in Singur for setting up a small car project. Now that the car project has moved to Gujarat, the court had urged the Tata group to announce its intention.

Though Cyrus Mistry said that the matter was before the apex court and declined to comment on it, his remarks during the AGM offered enough room that it will not mind exploring the possibility of making use of the Singur land for different purposes.

The erstwhile Communist government had invited the Tatas to launch the much hyped small car project from their state and the Tatas too agreed and started making progress. However, some of the land owners in Singur backed by some political parties opposed to the Communists thwarted the move, thus forcing Tata Motors to shift the manufacturing base of Nano car to Gujarat.

Now that Tata Motors is undergoing significant sales drop as a result of economic slow-down, it is unlikely to venture into opening up of new factories. Therefore, it is quite likely that either the company may plan to hold on to the land to be used at a later stage, or it could sell the land to its group companies. However, both will depend on how the Supreme Court view the current scenario.

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