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Tata team meets Modi on Nano

Maulik Pathak & Ashish Amin in Ahmedabad | September 22, 2008 11:13 IST

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Tata Motors [Get Quote], which suspended work at the Nano plant in West Bengal's Singur in view of continued confrontation at the site early this month, has held talks with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi over relocating the facility to the state.

In a closed-door meeting held at Modi's official residence on Saturday afternoon, a team of Tata Motors officials led by managing director Ravi Kant discussed setting up the project in Gujarat.

After Tata Motors officially announced the suspension of construction and commissioning of work at the Nano plant at Singur on September 2, several states, including Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, invited the auto-maker to set up plant for the world's cheapest car.

Top Gujarat government officials as well as the chief minister's office ensured that the Saturday's meeting remained a closely- guarded affair.

However, sources close to the development told Business Standard that the meeting lasted for over 30 minutes, where Tata Motors officials evinced interest in Mundra as one of the probable locations for relocating the plant.

"Tata Motors is exploring various locations, one of them is Gujarat. The group is looking at Mundra in the Kutch region as one of the locations," said a source.

Tata Motors is looking for about 1,000 acres to relocate the facility, which the government is willing to support, the source said.

The company has in the past held talks with diversified business entity Adani Group, which operates the Mundra port, including the possibility of Ro-Ro (roll on and roll off) ships coming to the port, said the sources. Tata Power [Get Quote] also has its 4000 MW ultra mega power project at Mundra, and being close to port the Nano project can have the advantage of exports also, sources added.

For a long time, the Gujarat government has been wooing Tata Motors to set up a car manufacturing facility in the state, even before it selected Singur in West Bengal for the Nano project. Gujarat has an advantage as far as land acquisition by the government is concerned.

"So far not a single project wherein the government has acquired land on behalf of the company has evoked any protest from the farmers or land-owners," said a senior government official.

Meanwhile, External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday said it would be a setback to industrialisation if the Tatas leave Singur.

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