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Economy Jan 17, 2013

Will Mamata gesture to ITC enthuse other corporates?

By Firstbiz Staff

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, an untouchable of sorts for the business community ever since her brush with Tatas in Singur, is now taking steps to encourage investments at least from the companies that are already present in the cash-strapped state.

After its annual investors' meet Bengal Leads, where the presence of corporates was almost nil, Banerjee has woken up and is bend on changing her government's industry-unfriendly image.

As part of this effort, she has taken initiative to hand over acontroversial plot of 39.5 acres near Panchla in Howrah to cigarettes-to-hotels conglomerate ITC, according to a report in the Times of Indiatoday.

Banerjee has woken up and is bend on changing her government's industry-unfriendly image. PTI

On the plot,ITC, whichis willing to invest nearly Rs 3,000 crore in West Bengal over the next four years,is planning to set up an integrated foods, personal care products and logistics hub, whichwould not only serve West Bengal but the neighbouring states too.

In the past, ITC chairman Y C Deveshwar had hinted that despite being the state's biggest corporate house, it was frustrating that the project was stuck for so long.

The plan had been delayed due to legal hurdles with the land, which was allotted by the Left government in 2008.The allotment was later scrapped due to disputes over the land-holding pattern.

Bannerjee's present move is an attempt to break from the past, considering other corporate biggies like the Tatas and ABG Shipyard had pulled out of the lucrative investments in the state.

While ITC has lauded the efforts of the present government in resolving the legal impasse, it remains to be seen if Banerjee will be able to lure India Inc to the state.

At the investor summit, Banerjee had made it clear the state government would not buy land on behalf of any private player

"We have prepared our land bank. There is adequate land with us. Our Opposition and a section of media is carrying out a slander campaign against us. Don't pay any heed to them," the CM said, added "Now please let the funds come to us,"an India Today report quoted her as saying.

by Firstbiz Staff

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