West Bengal should sort out Singur issue: Nooyi

September 24th, 2008 - 6:51 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 24 (IANS) PepsiCo chairman Indra Nooyi Wednesday said the West Bengal government has to “sort out” the controversy over the Nano small car project in Singur to signal its intention to attract foreign investments, but emphasised the issue will not negatively impact American investments.“There has been a setback because of Singur. But it has to be sorted out by the West Bengal government so that foreign investments can come in,” Nooyi said on a day of increased speculation that auto major Tata Motors was pulling out from the state.

Speaking on the sidelines of a conference on US-India relations, she described Singur as a “unique state issue which has national implications”.

At the same time, Nooyi said she did not think Singur would negatively impact American investors.

Maintaining that PepsiCo’s plant in the state has been “doing very well”, she said: “West Bengal has been a great state for us.”

“Democracy goes through its ups and downs. The idea is to work through all these ups and downs. We remain bullish on India and I am confident India will work through its issues,” Nooyi said.

Science and Technology Minister Kapil Sibal said the withdrawal of Tatas from Singur would be a “great tragedy” for West Bengal as it impacts employment generation.

“This symbolises growth, it symbolises the way forward not just for West Bengal, but for the rest of India,” Sibal said on the sidelines of the event organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

But he ruled out any central government intervention, saying “it was between the state government and the Tatas”.

Ever since the project was announced in 2006, the factory has faced protests from a section of farmers led by the Trinamool Congress against the “forcible acquisition” of agricultural land for the plant.

The umbrella body of the protesters - Krishijami Jiban Jibika Raksha Committee (KJJRC) - has demanded the return of 400 acres to the farmers who were unwilling to part with their land.

Tata Motors Sep 2 announced the suspension of work at the factory - planned to build the world’s least expensive car Nano - after local farmers backed by the opposition Trinamool Congress laid siege to it Aug 24.

An agreement was concluded between the state government and the opposition in the presence of Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi Sep 7 to find the maximum possible land to rehabilitate this section of farmers. Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee later said only 70 acres were available.

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