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Home > Business > Business Headline > Report

Nandigram a national issue: India Inc

Ishita Ayan Dutt in Kolkata | November 12, 2007 10:14 IST
Last Updated: November 12, 2007 10:15 IST

Nandigram may have turned into a war zone once more but the industry feels that the issue is national.

Despite the current crisis being a turf war between the political parties, the genesis of the issue is land acquisition for a chemical hub project. Harsh K Jha, president, Indian Chamber of Commerce and MD of Tata Metaliks [Get Quote], said Nandigram per se may be a state issue but it has affected the investment climate and land acquisition across the country.

Tata Metaliks, which is based in West Bengal, is looking at further expansion in the state.

"It has stalled growth everywhere. So many projects were announced in Orissa but it's all paper work. People have lost confidence. The larger issue is that people do not want to part with their land and that is a national issue."

He added that even though the situation in Nandigram today was purely political, the issue behind this scenario was land acquisition for a project.

Jha's opinion is somewhat corroborated by Ankit Miglani, director, Uttam Galva Steels [Get Quote], which has lined up greenfield projects elsewhere in the country. "Any state you go to getting land is a problem. And we can't buy land directly from the villagers because of various land laws," he said.

A Kolkata-based real estate developer said Nandigram has national bearings, pointing out that the difference was in the situation that was not so bad in other states, where requirement was much smallerĀ -- around 50-200 acres. "The issue there is with large projects, and not the smaller ones," he said.

However, the investors who have announced projects in West Bengal do not seem to be affected by Nandigram, for now.

Videocon [Get Quote] group Chairman Venugopal Dhoot said Nandigram was a purely political issue and the problem was restricted only to the region. "Assocham has done a study that West Bengal would see an investment of Rs 1 lakh crore (Rs 1 trillion) in the next five years," Dhoot, who is also the president of Assocham, said.

Videocon recently signed a memorandum of understanding for setting up a Rs 15,000-crore (Rs 150-billion) steel and power project in West Bengal, apart from the three special economic zones, which were in the pipeline.

"We have already started construction in the Siliguri SEZ, other two will take time," he said.

Sajjan Jindal, vice-chairman and MD, JSW Steel [Get Quote], which has announced the single-largest project in West Bengal, had a different take on the issue. "Our project will not be affected, we have gone too far ahead to be impacted, but it will impact the investment climate in West Bengal," he said.

JSW Steel is setting up a 10-million-tonne steel plant in the state.

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