West Bengal's investment Miss-fortunes touch new low

Though West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has made tall claims so far on the state’s progress in attracting investments, figures substantiate that in the first year of her government’s rule the state ended up at the bottom of the industrial investment index.

The state’s pathetic performance in attracting investments is a reiteration of events of the past three years.

According to the latest report on the country's industrial scenario released by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion, falling under the Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry, in 2011 West Bengal received fresh industrial investments of a mere Rs 325 crore -- the lowest investment figure of the past three years, well below the Rs 1,163 crore the state received in 2010 and the Rs 632 crore of 2009.

After Mamata Banerjee took over as chief minister in May 2011, the industrial community poured in with fresh investments proposals worth over Rs 3.03 lakh crore via Industrial Entrepreneur Memorandums (IEM).

IEMs are formal investment documents which industrialists need to submit to the Secretariat of Industrial Assistance under the Commerce ministry to set up or expand industries in the country.

Industry insiders said that this was the highest number of proposals received by the state since 1992 and the realisation of these proposals would have created 43,529 jobs.
However, only 33 of the 135 IEMs were translated into reality with total investments on this count standing at a paltry Rs 325 crore.

In the first quarter of calendar 2012 -- from January to March -- the number of IEMs for Bengal was just 24, with cumulative investment volumes of Rs 1,243 crore. Among them, only nine IEMs have been implemented so far, drawing investment of just Rs 117 crore.

On the employment front too, West Bengal has put up a poor show. An Assocham survey reveals that Kolkata ranks lowest among major cities of the country on the employment generation front.

Asked about the poor condition of investment in the state, Assocham Secretary-General D S Rawat said, “Investors are apprehensive about the state government and Bengal needed a single big investment — like the Nano, which drove off in 2008 from Singur to Sanand in Gujarat in the face of protests spearheaded by Mamata — to make up for the loss of face.”“Without acquiring land, nobody can start industrial units here. The state should play a role in facilitating land acquisition.

I went through the land acquisition policy of the state government. They must have an open policy where any irritant which comes in the way of implementation of projects should be removed,” Rawat added.

According to Indian Chamber of Commerce Secretary-General Rajiv Singh, “The state government has clarified that it will not acquire land for industry and I assume several major industries have been kept on hold only because of this.”

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