Mamata woos industry with boat ride to Gangasagar, Sundarbans
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee might not have many policies to attract investors, but she is never short of innovative ideas.
After about half-a-dozen investors meets in Kolkata, Haldia, Delhi, Mumbai and the latest in Singapore without much success, Banerjee is now planning to take a boat ride next month with industrialists. West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) has been asked to organise the trips. According to officials in WBIDC, the chief minister has lined up two boat trips with city-based industrialists – the first one on October 30-31 to Gangasagar and the other is scheduled for December 8-9 to Jharkhali, an island in the Sundarbans.
“Some leading industrialists said they would not be available for the first trip, hence the second one has been planned. Either both or at least the second trip will surely take place,” said an official. The night halt and the meeting with industrialists over dinner for both the trips are being planned at Sajnekhali Tourist Lodge, near Gosaba in the Sunderbans.
“The chief minister will also have a discussion with the invitees on board. She wants to sell tourism prospects in the region during the trip. There is a lot of scope for investment in tourism,” the official added.
Also, state Finance and Industry Minister Amit Mitra might visit Delhi by October-end. This is also one of the reasons for chalking out the second trip, as Mitra too will be accompanying industrialists, according to the plan.
According to officials, there would be 40 people, including key ministers, secretaries and industrialists who will take part in the boat trips. Although the state government is yet to make a formal announcement, sources said, CESC chairman Sanjiv Goenka, Ambuja-Neotia group Chairman Harsh Neotia, Dhunseri Petrochem and Tea chairman CK Dhanuka are among the invitees for both the trips. Invitations have been sent to presidents of the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bengal National Chamber of Commerce Industry, Merchants' Chamber, Indian Chamber of Commerce and Bharat Chamber of Commerce.
Some of the industrialists, who had excused themselves from the first trip citing prior engagement, however found themselves in a spot with the second trip plan.
“I have not yet received the invitation for the Jharkhali trip. But, you can say no and be excused once, but certainly not twice, when the invitation is from chief minister herself,” said an industrialist.
However, this is not the first time Banerjee has come up with such an idea. Earlier in June this year, Banerjee led members of her industry core committee, comprising cabinet ministers and several industrialists, to a meeting at an air-conditioned glass house on an island in Rajarhat’s Eco Tourism Park. The industrialists and the chief minister travelled in motorised country boats and a floating jetty for about 500 metres to reach the venue.
But there seems to be fewer takers for the two-day trips this time around. At least for the first one, it looks like ministers and government officials could outnumber industrialists.
Photograph, courtesy: Bri Vos/Wikimedia Commons