The Tata Group is back doing business in West Bengal nearly six years after it called off the Tata Nano project at Singur following a bitter war of nerves with the then opposition leader Mamata Banerjee.
The Tatas called off the Nano car project the state in 2008 in the face of fierce opposition by Mamata Banerjee, who was then the opposition leader, against forcible farm land acquisition (See: No return to Singur, says Ratan Tata).
Three years later, Mamata who became the chief minister, with an anti-industry image, however, failed to recoup the land acquired by Tatas.
The West Bengal government has now hired two Tata Group companies - Tata Consultancy Services and CMC Ltd - for two key projects aimed at modernising the state's treasury management and government's cash transfer system.
A state government official confirmed hiring of TCS and CMC, saying that both companies have been selected through competitive bidding. The proposed schemes are aimed at streamlining government payments and curb leakages.
TCS will develop end-to-end biometric solution for smooth delivery of government payments at the panchayat level. The project, which will ensure that the cash benefits go to the right benefactor, is estimated to cost Rs120 crore.
"The biometric solution will smoothen the transfer of government compensation at the panchayat level. It's a massive task as 70 per cent of the state's population resides in villages," minister of finance, industry and commerce Amit Mitra said on Saturday at a seminar organised by Indian Chamber of Commerce.
The chief minister has recently entrusted Mitra to handle IT department too in order to bring in synergies between these major portfolios.
Mitra, a former FICCI secretary-general, is well known for his proximity to industry leaders. He said that the biometrics project is expected to be ready for launch in three months.
CMC Ltd, which is a subsidiary of TCS, will create an integrated financial management system. The system will track the government's treasury operations and every payment the government makes. The project cost is pegged at Rs47 crore.
"Once this system is in place, there will be more consistency with every department as every payment can be tracked on a real-time basis," Mitra said. His finance department has already modernised the VAT registration and online corporate tax payment systems to improve efficiency and reduce seepage.
These initiatives have helped the government nearly double its own revenue generation to around Rs39,000 crore in FY14 from Rs21,000 crore in FY12.