Oct 17, 2008

India - Tata's open letter to people of WB

After pulling out the Nano project from Singur, Tata Sons chairman Ratan Tata on Friday asked the people of West Bengal to support the present government in building a prosperous state or see it consumed by a destructive political environment.

In an open letter to the people of West Bengal which appeared in select dailies here, Tata said the citizens should decide whether they wanted education and jobs in the industrial and hi-tech sectors or 'wants to stay as they are'.

"The people of West Bengal, particularly the younger citizens, will need to express their views and aspirations as to what they would like to see West Bengal become in the years ahead," the letter said.

"Would they like to support the present government of Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to build a prosperous state with the rule of law, modern infrastructure and industrial growth, or would they like to see the state consumed by a destructive political environment of confrontation, agitation, violence and lawlessness?" Tata asked.

Defending his decision to withdraw the Nano project from Singur, Tata said it was not taken in haste.

Tata said he was compelled to write the letter to explain how his company's dream was shattered by an environment of 'politically motivated agitation and hostility that finally left us with no option but to withdraw the project from the state'.

He said Tata Motors had decided to locate the Nano project in West Bengal two years ago which 'reflected the tremendous faith and confidence we had, and still have, in the investment friendly policies' of the present government.

"All through the two years we have been constructing the plant at Singur, this feeling of faith and confidence in the vision and objectives of the state government has been reinforced," Tata wrote in his letter.

"Unfortunately, the confrontation by Trinamool Congress led by Mamata Banerjee and supported by vested interests and certain political parties, opposing the acquisition of land by the state government, have caused serious disruptions to the progress of the Nano plant," he said.

He wrote "the land acquired by the state government at Singur and leased to Tata Motors has been, we believe, through a transparent process with fair compensation."

"Throughout the construction of the plant, the company has had to endure constant acts of aggression on the site, occasional acts of violence, breakage of compound perimeter walls, theft of construction material from within the project area, as well as intimidation and even physical assault of employees, contract labour and residents of the area to be absorbed in the project," he said.

Tata further wrote "various attempts at finding solutions were thwarted by the Trinamool Congress' consistent demand that land acquired for the Nano plant and its integrated vendor park be returned to the segment of the land owners which the Trinamool Congress party claims to represent.

"Tata Motors has always maintained that this project has been conceived of as an integrated campus of manufacturing facilities and suppliers, so as to maximise integration and minimise logistics and material flow costs. Disruption of this integrated campus would make it extremely difficult for the company to meet its product price and productivity goals," he said.

Tata said he had made an appeal on August 22 to usher in a more congenial environment failing which, the company would have to withdraw the project from the state.

Unfortunately, the response to the appeal was escalation of the hostilities for which the project had to be pulled out finally, he said.

"We are conscious of the disappointment and despondency that may be felt by some of the Singur residents. We believe that the responsibility for this would lie with the Trinamool Congress."

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