Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Friday, Apr 18, 2003
Industry & Economy
Mining & Quarrying
Bengal to open up mining further
KOLKATA, April 17
THE West Bengal Government is set to further open up the State's mining industry to private investment, Mr Nirupam Sen, Minister for Commerce & Industries, said on Thursday.
The opening up is part of the State Government's current initiative on participation by the private sector in industries.
Mr Sen was addressing members of the Bengal National Chamber of Commerce & Industry (BNCCI).
The idea is to look for capital and enterprise for fuller development of sectors that have been identified for tapping.
The State is willing to invite private parties for tapping granite deposits found in districts such as Purulia. Also, private participation in coal - in areas that are not under CCL - is not ruled out.
These measures will be in line with the Government's latest mining policy, Mr Sen said, adding that it has the potential of generating considerable interest among investors.
West Bengal has already seen positive developments in such areas as IT, communications, food processing and iron and steel in recent times.
A few IT majors have already set up their establishments in the State and some others are expected to come in as well.
"The Government has already tried to harness the potential of district-level entrepreneurs, partly to promote areas other than Kolkata."
Meetings with local businessmen have been recently held in Coochbehar, Jalpaiguri, Nadia and Howrah districts, he added.
On another front, a large food processing unit is expected to start production in Malda.
The State has taken some initiatives to address the infrastructure-related issues, the Minister said.
These include an expressway connecting Kalyani with Kolkata (more importantly, Dum Dum Airport).
Communication services in the State are set to improve, thanks to efforts by Reliance Industries to introduce a fibre network.
West Bengal has also proposed to reuse land left behind by sick and closed industrial units. Such land is available but reuse will involve a lot of legal and financial issues.
Incidentally, the State may also have more medical colleges in future, given the recent attempts to line up investments by private houses.
The Government, on its part, has also been considering establishment of medical colleges in certain key districts.
Initiatives on civil aviation
The West Bengal Government plans to write to the Union Civil Aviation Ministry on improvement of the State's prospects in the air travel segment.
The local authorities would like an airstrip in Coochbehar to be reactivated for commercial use, Mr Sen told BNCCI members.
They would like to rope in the services of Indian Airlines as well as private companies like Sahara in this area.
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