West Bengal ropes in Tatas for leather project

Kolkata, Jan 19 | Updated: Jan 20 2007, 06:46am hrs
Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, not content with the Tatas setting up a small-car plant at Singur and a cancer hospital at Rajarhat, wants the group to invest in the states leather sector as well. Bhattacharjee said his government has had advanced talks with the Tatas for a leather-training institute and to improve the conditions of the Leather Engineering College at Beliaghata. Inaugurating the 31st Lexpo on Friday, Bhattacharjee said that the Tatas have agreed to help the state to advance in leather technology.

I have requested Ratan Tata to help us for the advancement of leather industry in the state. The Tatas have agreed to help us and are likely to invest for setting up a leather training institute and improve the conditions of the leather engineering college in the state, Bhattacharjee said. The Tatas manufacture and market a wide range of leather products under the Stryde brand. It has already proposed to set up 50-60 boutique stores across the country.

Bhattacharjee said that although 55% of Indias leather products are produced in West Bengal, the state has a share of only 25% in exports. I want Bengal to be amongst the first category of states manufacturing and exporting leather products, Bhattacharjee said.

Apart from the giant Calcutta Leather Complex at Bantala, the West Bengal Small Industries Development Corp, in partnership with a private party, aims to set up a small leather complex at Panjipara in North Dinajpur on 7.5 acres. Bhattacharjee added that, although the state is yet to get a private partner in this project, it has decided to invest Rs 12 crore in the first phase and Rs 18 crore in the second phase.

Work at Bantala is in progress and Union government is likely to give it the status of a special economic zone. The state government in association with the Union government is setting up a small leather cluster in Santiniketan and a Leather Accessories Park in Kolkata is also planned.