Nano will move out of Singur if violence persists: Tata

August 22nd, 2008 - 3:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Aug 22 (IANS) The Tata group chairman Ratan Tata Friday warned that his group will not hesitate to move its small car project out of Singur in Communist-ruled West Bengal if violence persisted.”It is for Calcutta (Kolkata) to decide if we want to be an unwanted resident or a good corporate citizen of West Bengal,” Tata told reporters here after a series of meetings with top officials and ministers in the state government.

“We cannot operate in this environment,” the soft-spoken chairman of one of India’s largest industrial houses said. “If West Bengal wants us, we will be very very happy to stay and be part of the state’s development.”

“I have a very soft corner for West Bengal. But now I have the feeling that Tatas are unwanted in West Bengal for whatsoever reason,” he said after the annual general meeting of Tata Tea.

“Industrialisation cannot ignore the rural community and I don’t think that rural community can prosper without the industrialisation.”

Tata also said that land at Singur, some 40 km from here, was not fertile and that no farming was possible for two years. Asked if the developments would affect the group’s future plans for West Bengal, he said: “Of course, it will.”

“If anybody is under the impression that since we have made the investment, we will not move - then we will move to protect our people,” he said, referring to the investment of Rs.15 billion ($375 million) made in the project.

“I cannot bring our people and family to West Bengal if they are going to be beaten, if there is going to be violence.”

The Tata group chairman’s comments came against the backdrop of continuing violence in the state over the small car project - christened ‘Nano” at Singur, where 997.11 acres were acquired.

The project has been mired in controversy as farmers’ groups and the Trinamool Congress led by Mamata Banerjee have alleged that the state government “forcibly acquired” their farmlands.

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, with the aim of selling it at no more than Rs.100,000 ($2,500), not including the taxes.

The company said it intended to produce about 250,000 Nanos and expects an eventual annual demand of one million cars a year.

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