Tata Motors gearing up for Nano rollout, Trinamool plays spoilsport

June 15th, 2008 - 3:56 pm ICT by IANS  

By Sirshendu Panth and Aparajita Gupta
Singur (West Bengal), June 15 (IANS) Tata Motors is gearing up to roll out the world’s cheapest car Nano from its factory here in October. It has roped in engineers from Pune to groom professionals in the plant, which is buzzing with activity. But West Bengal’s resurgent opposition Trinamool Congress could play the spoilsport. The company, India’s largest, has also brought in around four-five of the Rs.100,000 ($2,500) Nano cars to the plant, a 40-km drive from Kolkata, for demonstration and training of local engineers, a Tata Motors spokesman told IANS.

On a visit to Singur, IANS correspondents saw work was at an advanced stage in the blue and white painted factory which was buzzing with hectic activity. Tata Motors workers coming out of the factory said the engine shop, paint shop, assembling unit and press shop were nearing completion.

“Work is progressing as per schedule,” the spokesman said. The first car is scheduled to hit the market in October this year.

But the main opposition Trinamool Congress, which bagged 15 of the 16 seats in the gram panchayat - the lowest rung of the state’s three-tier panchayat system - in the recent rural body polls, could pose problems for the project.

“We will see how the Tatas operate the factory. The completion of the structure for the factory will not ensure they can roll out cars. They cannot run their factory only by deploying a large number of policemen,” Becharam Manna, convenor of the Singur Krishi Jami Raksha Committee (Singur Save Farmland Committee), told IANS

A total of 997.11 acres was acquired by the government across three panchayats - Gopalnagar, KGD and Beraberi - that comprise the project area.

“The Tatas will face administrative non-cooperation from our panchayats. We will not give the company permission to take electricity connection and it will also be stopped from dumping effluents in the river,” Manna said.

The Tata Motors spokesman reacted, saying: “We hope there will be no problems as such.”

Tata Motors has also provided employment for locals in the company.

“Around 150 locals have found direct employment in the company. As the project progresses, and more and more vendors set up shop, the scope for employment will also grow,” the spokesman said.

Krishna Ghosh, who has joined Tata Motors, is all smiles.

“We gave 22 acres of land. But in return, I have got the security of a job with one of the biggest companies of the world,” said the young man of Ghoshpara in Gopalnagar village. Ghosh now drives one of the mobile medical vans of Tata Motors that make rounds of the far-flung areas of Singur daily.

Nano, a 623 cc car with a 33 horsepower multipoint fuel injection petrol engine, was unveiled at Auto Expo 2008 in New Delhi Jan 10 in a blaze of glory.

The company said it will initially produce about 250,000 Nanos and expects an eventual annual demand of one million cars.

The political opposition notwithstanding, the potential buyers from the middle and lower middle classes seem to be counting the days for the car’s launch.

Sandip Mondal, a banker, said: “I will buy a Nano because it fits my budget. I want to be among the first few buyers.”

“It will help me and my family members travel together in some comfort. It is always risky to ride a bike on the bumpy roads with my two small daughters and wife.”

Moumita Dey, technical architect, Ontrack Systems Limited, has been following every detail about the car, but prefers to wait and watch. “I will not buy the car when it first hits the market. I will wait for the first six months to see how it performs, then I will think of buying one.”

The Trinamool-led Singur Save Farmland Committee, along with members of the civil society and farmers, has spearheaded a violent agitation since the middle of 2006 against the setting up of the plant by acquiring farmlands.

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