Tata signals Singur exit (Lead)

September 2nd, 2008 - 11:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Sep 2 (IANS) Auto major Tata Motors Tuesday said it was ready to pull out from Singur in West Bengal, where its plant to produce the world’s cheapest car Nano has remained closed since Friday following protests by farmers and opposition parties.”In view of the current situation, the company is evaluating alternate options for manufacturing the Nano car at other company facilities and a detailed plan to relocate the plant and machinery to an alternate site is under preparation,” the company said in a statement here.

“To minimize the impact this may have on the recently recruited and trained people from West Bengal, the company is exploring the possibility of absorbing them at its other plant locations,” it said.

Tata Motors pointed out that it had “been constrained to suspend the construction and commissioning work at the Nano plant in Singur in view of continued confrontation and agitation at the site” and said the decision to stop work was taken in order to ensure the safety of its employees and contract labour.

“They (the workers) have been violently obstructed while reporting to work. The company has assessed the prevailing situation in Singur, after four continuous days of cancellation of work, and believes that there is no change in the volatile situation around the plant,” it said.

The company said the project’s auto ancillary partners that had commenced work at their respective plants in Singur were also constrained to suspend work.

“Construction of the plant has faced challenges at various points of time. There has, however, been a significant decline in the attendance of their staff and contractual labour since Aug 24,” it said.

It was on Aug 24 that affected farmers and activists led by Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee had started an indefinite siege at the gates of the factory in Singur, about 40 km from here.

The company regretted that some of the international consultants working on the plant had returned home and the construction work in the plant had been stalled since Aug 28.

“In fact, the existing environment of obstruction, intimidation and confrontation has begun to impact the ability of the company to convince several of its experienced managers to relocate and work in the plant.

“Further, several persons engaged in the construction and commissioning work who had taken accommodation at Singur and nearby areas have since vacated and gone away due to intimidation and fea,” it added.

Construction of the project comprising of the Nano manufacturing facilities and the vendor park, a normal feature in modern world-class auto plants, commenced in January 2007 after the state government announced the project in May, 2006.

Commenting on the situation, a Tata Motors spokesperson said, “The situation around the Nano plant continues to be hostile and intimidating. There is no way this plant could operate efficiently unless the environment became congenial and supportive of the project. We came to West Bengal hoping we could add value, prosperity and create job opportunities in the communities in the State”.

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