Japan rings alarm bells on Singur now

Written by Rohit Khanna | ROHIT KHANNA | Kolkata, Sep 29 | Updated: Sep 30 2008, 06:56am hrs
Japanese investors are closely watching the Singur imbroglio and if Tata Motors pulls out of West Bengal, that will have an impact on Japanese investors, said Fujio Samukawa, consul general of Japan in Kolkata.

There is an interest among the general people in Japan about the Nano car as it is a unique product. The problem (in Singur) needs to be solved amicably, as much as possible, he said, clearly hinting that a loss of image of the state would carry beyond the business community.

Meanwhile, the Trinamool Congress spurned an offer for all-party talks and party chief Mamata Banerjee headed for Delhi to meet Sonia Gandhi.

Banerjee will meet UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday to ask the Centre to intervene in the Singur land row and ensure that the government sticks to the September 7 agreement between the Trinamool and the West Bengal government. Banerjee said she would also meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after he returns from France and the president on the Singur issue. We will also meet leaders of other political parties, she said.

Samukawa is the third consul general in Kolkata to express concern over the recent industrial situation in the state. Earlier, US consul general in Kolkata, Beth Payne, said the political tussle over the Tata Motors small car project has made the US investors wary of investment in the state. Gunter Wehrmann, German consul general in Kolkata, had also expressed his dismay over the non-renewal of licence to Metro Cash & Carry.

So far Mitsubishi Chemicals and Kubota Corp are the two Japanese investors in the state. Kubota Corps joint venture with Tata Metaliks at Kharagpur for manufacturing of iron ductile pipes will be operational from March next year.

There is a scope for further Japanese investment in West Bengal, though nothing is in the pipeline at present, said Samukawa. If Japanese industrialists invest in Mumbai and New Delhi, then why not in Kolkata he said.

Earlier the state government had given the construction work of Raichak Kukrahati Bridge to Indonesias Salim Group even after the feasibility study for the work was given to Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Nirupam Sen went to Japan to explain the position of the state. There is no misunderstanding regarding that, he said.

Talking to FE he said, We cannot force Japanese companies to come to West Bengal, but we can try to explain them the advantages of investment in the state.

While Samukawa did not wish to comment on the land acquisition procedure in the state, he said: In Japan, private farms buy land directly from the farmers. Companies negotiate with the landowners and it has nothing to do with the government there.

Singur crisis deepens, Mamata to meet Sonia

Political Bureau

Kolkata, Sep 29

The Singur battle just got worse for the Left Front government on Monday when the Trinamool Congress spurning an offer for all-party talks and party chief Mamata Banerjee heading to Delhi to meet Sonia Gandhi.

Banerjee will meet UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday to ask the Centre to intervene in the Singur land row and ensure that the government sticks to the September 7 agreement between the Trinamool and the West Bengal government.

Banerjee told newspersons that she would submit all papers to the UPA chairperson on the agreement that provides for return of maximum land from within the Nano car project site at Singur to unwilling land-losers, signed in the presence of governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi at Raj Bhavan on September 7.

We have been demanding implementation of the agreement, but the government is not doing it. The government has lost credibility, she said.

We will go to any extent to get the agreement implemented. We are ready to sacrifice our lives, she said.

Banerjee said she would also meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh after he returns from France and the president on the Singur issue. We will also meet leaders of other political parties, she said.

She also ruled out attending an all-party meeting as suggested by WBPCC president P R Dasmunsi and said nothing short of the implementation of the agreement would be acceptable to her party.