West Bengal wants land belonging to closed factories

March 1st, 2009 - 7:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, March 1 (IANS) West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee Sunday accused the central government of not being willing to hand over land belonging to closed factories it owned and help the state government start new industries.
“There are hundreds of factories and mills belonging to the government of India in West Bengal which have been closed down. For example, the National Jute Mills Corp, National Textile Corp, and Krishna Silicate and Glass are never going to reopen,” Bhattacharjee said at the inauguration of Paridhan, a garment park here.

“I personally have written many times to the centre asking it to give us the land so that we can start new industries there. We are even ready to buy the land at reserved prices. But the central government refused and said it will auction such land,” Bhattacharjee said.

The chief minister said opposition parties have often criticised the state government for acquiring land for factories instead of setting them up on the premises of closed factories.

“Often the opposition parties, as well as the media have asked us why did we not set up new industries in the place of closed ones, instead of acquiring land? Do they think taking over closed factories is easy?” Bhattacharjee said.

“As it is, the central government is not cooperating. Then, if there is a pending case in the court, one has to clear that, and finally there are bank loans to be repaid. In most of the cases, the owners have closed the factories as well as run away with money.”

He said the state government wanted to make optimum use of the land of closed factories. “There is a separate department, the industrial reconstruction development, under the vigilance of the state industry minister (Nirupam Sen) to search for and take over closed factories.”

Bhattacharjee said there are 218 closed factories on BT Road at Barrackpore near Kolkata.

“But so far, we have been able to take over only two. There are many closed jute mills along the Ganga, which can be used for setting up small and medium scale industries.”

According to him, the central government had to decide on the closed factories in the state.

“Our agenda is very clear - either the centre should set up industries on the land of closed factories in West Bengal, or hand over the land to us to start new factories. It’s high time we leave aside our personal interests and think about the country, and country’s future lies with industrialisation.”

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