Maharashtra awaiting Tata reaction on Nano project offer (Lead)

August 23rd, 2008 - 7:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Aug 23 (IANS) The Maharashtra government is awaiting with bated breath Tata group chairman Ratan Tata’s reaction to its proposal to shift the Nano plant to this state, an official said Saturday.”We have made a clear offer to the Tata group. The ball is now in their court,” the official told IANS, declining to elaborate.

A factor that has boosted the Maharashtra government’s expectations is the sudden softening of stance of Revenue Minister Narayan Rane, who last week created a ruckus over the allotment of land in Navi Mumbai to the Videocon Group for its proposed liquid crystal display-thin film transistor (LCD-TFT) plant.

The bitter controversy, which led to Rane’s resignation, had rattled the state government since the Videocon group had threatened to pull the mega project out of the state.

Rane’s resignation was rejected and top party functionaries from the state and centre made efforts to pacify him.

After a meeting with Congress President Sonia Gandhi in New Delhi Saturday, Rane agreed to continue as a cabinet minister and to also attend future cabinet meetings. Senior state Congress leader Gurudas Kamat accompanied Rane at the meeting.

On Saturday, Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, in an attempt to send the right signals to the corporate world, offered the red carpet treatment to the Tata group if it wanted to shift its Rs.15 billion (Rs.1500 crore) project to manufacture the Nano - the much-awaited Rs.100,000 family car.

Deshmukh’s announcement came in the wake of hurdles confronting the Tata Group at its plant in Singur in West Bengal.

In Kolkata Friday, an angry Ratan Tata had even threatened to withdraw from Singur in view of the Trinamool Congress’ demand for returning 400 acres out of the 997 acres allotted for the project.

Tata’s threat evoked strong reactions from the corporate world on the political interference that affects industrial projects in different parts of India.

“If the Tatas want, they can set up operations anywhere in Maharashtra. We shall offer them all facilities, including land, anywhere they require - Pune, Nashik, Aurangabad or any other place of their choice,” Deshmukh asserted at a media conference at his official residence.

Pune - considered the automobile city of India - or its surroundings could be ideally suited for the Nano project since it already has the required infrastructure, the official explained.

The chief minister pointed out that the Tata group has several of its operations in Maharashtra and its headquarters are also located in Mumbai, and thus, the state could be a natural choice for it to consider.

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