Amidst escalating violence against Tata employees at the site of its Nano plant in Singur, West Begal, by local political groups, Tata group chairman Ratan Tata has threatened to pull out of West Bengal if violence does not cease.
Talking to the media in Kolkata on the sidelines of Tata Tea's AGM in Kolkata, Ratan Tata said, ''We will move out of Singur whatever the cost if distress continues.," He added that the plant could not continue under police protection. "We could exit to protect the safety of the employees."
"If need be we will move and relocate the Nano project elsewhere. Relocation will cost both the Tatas and the West Bengal government, but I will not bring my employees here if they will be beaten up."
"I've made a major investment here and to move will be at a great cost to Tata Motors and to its shareholders but there is a concern about our people, a definite concern about not being wanted."
Ratan Tata also met West Bengal industry minister Nirupam Sen to voice his concern on the continuous violence and the indefinite agitation planned at the Singur plant from 24 August by the Trinamool Congress.
He was reassured by the industry minister that the state government's was in discussion with the Mamta Banarjee's Trinamool Congress, who had assured him that her party would not create any law and order problem and the agitation would be peaceful.
Inspite of these assurances Banarjee said, "We will march to Singur, sit on roads and agitate till a solution to the problem of returning 400 acre to unwilling farmers is found."
Banerjee said Tata Motors requires only 650 acres to build the factory but had acquired 997.11 acres of land. She requested the Tata Group to return the extra land, which the company had acquired for building ancillary units.
At the invitation of the West Bengal government, the Tata Group had invested 1,500 crore ($346 million) in Singur to make its Rs1 lakh car, as a showcase for the state to attract more industrial progress.
Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (Assocham) study released in June 2008 had reported that West Bengal is the second favored destination for investments in India, attracting Rs 673.61 billion, accounting for 21 per cent of the total capital expenditure.
If Tatas do carry out their threat then the question of land acquisition for future projects and flow of investments into the state would be a big blow to West Bengal.