There is no
denying the fact that the most distinctive feature of modern civilization
is industrialization, keeping its onward movement towards redressing
the lot of the have not, a commitment of the left front government.
Our state is in a junction at the point of which industrialization is
a readily awaiting acceptance. The countries, including some socialist
countries like China, Vietnam, , which realized the truth achieved progress
with flourishing industries. Let us unfold the pages of history of industrialization
in West Bengal with its past achievement and how through ups and downs
it dropped to the point of decline for various reasons in different
times. When the European merchants stepped into our country, they ha
d quite prudently knit up a structure which had its ruin by the intervention
of colonialism. The Indians had to just see the gradual ero0sion. We
have not forgotten that in 1954 a proposal taken in the parliament spoke
of the formulation of the socialistic pattern of society when then prime
minister Pandit Neheru added the proposal of nationalization of industries-
though that gave rise to mixed reactions. The reasons behind the deplorable
state of our industries since 1968 are varied. The faulty and erratic
industrial policy of issuing license imposed by the central government,
the act of deprivation of the traders assembly and so also industrial
norms of Bombay. The masul samikaran rule, lack of national ore policy
particularly in iron affected the steel industry which in tern paralyzed
the vertebrate of engineering industry. Lack of knowledge and skill
in modern technology caused the erosion in tea, jute and textile industries.
Dearth of power production in those days, only profit earning motive
of the employers, poor management and administration, faulty leadership
of trade union and political mishandling and unbridled movement caused
havoc damage affecting economy. There are many instance of non cooperation
of the central government also. Unprecedented delay of 12 years for
issuing approval for Haldia Petrochemicals or scandalizing campaign
against Bakreswar thermal power plant, which now has created record
for uninterrupted power generation, are only some of them exposing the
vindictive attitude of the central government. The specific instance
of replacing Jute bags by synthetic product in carrying food grains
during the tenure of N.D.A government might be regarded as a rude shock
to the growth of industry. The fact remains that the decline of jute
industries since the partition of the country was mainly due to lack
of quality jute fibers and the backdated technology of our existing
jute mills. All new mills with modern technology came up in Bangladesh.
But a huge number of people depend upon this jute mills in West Bengal
not only in terms of direct job but also for indirect employment. The
decision of replacing jute bags was shocking to them. The left parties
handled the situation strongly and due to the dependence of the current
U.P.A government upon the left, the left parties compelled the government
to change the decision and reintroduced jute bags in food grain transportation.
This is like oxygen to the jute industry and the small and medium scale
industries which depend upon the jute sector. Despite non cooperation
from the central government the state government experiencing the gradual
decline at the context of the changing scenario from a favorable condition
to a state of decaying plight, took a stern attitude for the revival
of the industries keeping agricultural production unaffected. Thus came
the industrial policy of 1994 when by that time Panchayet Raj upheld
the status of our state in agriculture. But the factor posing barrier
is that state government has no such fund to invest in heavy industries
in large scale. Naturally private investment has to be welcomed for
heavy industries as well as infrastructural development. Nobody differs
that we need industrialization because the chances of new employment
(both direct and indirect) are more in industrial sector than in agriculture.
The driving force of industrialization is heavy industries which require
a huge capital investment. There is a argument that the government is
interested about heavy industries only and neglecting the small and
medium scale industries. Its true that with the same amount of investment
more jobs can be created in the small and medium sector. But can anyone
set forth any debate that it is on the base of heavy industries only
the medium and small scale industries thrive resulting in huge employment
for jobseekers as well as indirect employment indifferent wings. For
example Haldia Petrochemicals provided direct employment to only 900
people and indirect to 2000 people but 710 small and medium scale downstream
industries depending upon HPL have created 47000 direct jobs and more
than one lakh indirect employment. In the Barrakpore industrial zone
there are many small and medium scale industries which depend mainly
upon the jute mills of the area. In Singur, the proposed TATA motors
plant will generate 1500-2000 direct jobs in the company but a total
of 130 allied industries which will set up their factory in the proposed
automobile vendor park will generate direct employment of more than
5000 people and indirect of many more. Of those 130, 50 will start operating
from the beginning of the project and others will set up their shops
in phases later.
land is needed?
West Bengal has
a population density of over 904 persons per square kilometer, which
is nearly three times the population density of India as a whole. Moreover,
nearly 63% of the States’ population is engaged in agriculture. It
is evident that in order to reduce population pressure on land, industrialization
is an imperative. Given the scarcity of land
in the State,
the question of land for setting up new industries has naturally assumed
the centre stage of the development debate in West Bengal. Besides new
industries, land is also required for urbanization and diversification
into different forms of nonagricultural economic activity. In view of
this, the West Bengal Government has initiated the formulation of a
comprehensive Land Use Policy. A Report on the Status on Land has been
prepared by the Land and Land Reforms Department of the West Bengal
Government (available in the Department’s website). Some excerpts
from the Report are quoted below:
1. Net sown area (or area actually
under cultivation) predominates greatly in the reported area of the
State. The Share of net sown
area in the total area reported is about 63 per cent. In India as a whole, by comparison,
46 per cent of total area is occupied by net sown area.
2. The share of fallow land, uncultivable
land and pastures in West Bengal is very low. It
is noteworthy that four categories of land
use - namely, fallow other than current fallows, cultivable
waste land, permanent pasture and other grazing land and barren and uncultivable
land- constitute 17.6 percent of land under different uses in India but only 1 per cent of land under
different uses in West Bengal.
and uncultivable land in the State are concentrated in specific regions
of the State. The district
level analysis shows that much of the barren and uncultivable land, cultivable
waste land and fallows other than
is concentrated in six districts, Birbhum, Bankura, Darjeeling, Paschim
Medinipur, Purulia and Bardhaman. Extensive tracts of flat land are,
of course, not characteristic of the hilly areas of Darjeeling District.
In Bardhaman District, the uncultivable land is likely to be concentrated
in the coal-mining areas.
4. The area under forests is limited
and concentrated regionally. Of
the reporting area, 13.5 per cent is under forest (although, because
of the methodology of data collection, this is likely to be an underestimate).
As may be expected, forests are concentrated in the Western Districts
of Bankura, West Medinipur and Purulia,
in the estuarine areas of South 24 Parganas
and in the Himalayan regions of Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri.
5. Interestingly, the extent of
land currently under non-agricultural uses is higher in West Bengal
than in India. The comparative
data show that the share of land under nonagricultural uses
in West Bengal in 2003-04 was 18.5 per cent while the corresponding share
for India was 7.7 per cent.
6. Environments that require special
protection occur in all the different categories of land use. These include wetlands, different types of
forest and scrub and the mangrove regions of the south, Himalayan forests, riparian tracts,
coastal regions and water bodies.”
‘The main sources
of new demand for land at present are industry, housing, urban
spaces and infrastructure. The provision of
land for each of these purposes will require the conversion
of land from other uses. The factors to be considered when land is converted
to any of these uses from other current use include the following:
1. The current use to which land
is being put and the social costs of land conversion. Where land is agricultural, the factors to
be considered are the number of crops grown
on the land, irrigation facilities current
levels of employment and income generation and
the productive potential of land.
2. The impact of land conversion
on the present users of the land, particularly when they belong to the
working poor. Full and
just compensation must be provided for any
land that is converted to alternative purposes.
This is a matter of the people’s entitlement.
3. The benefits from the alternative
uses to which the land will be put, particularly
with regard to employment and income generation.
4. Environmental considerations, particularly with respect to fragile
or endangered ecological zones.
5. Identify vacant land first. As stated, the Government has initiated
action to create an inventory of land that is not currently in use.”
for land for industrialization and urbanization creates a special responsibility
with respect to agriculture for the Government. The State can afford
to convert land to non-agricultural purposes only if it is able to enhance
agricultural productivity, and to implement an agricultural policy that
? Protect and extend the achievements of
the State with regard to rice production, thereby contributing to the
food and nutrition security of the people of West Bengal;
? Improve productivity in food production,
thus releasing a significant proportion of cropped area in the State
for the diversification of crop production, and, in particular, the
production of oilseeds, pulses, fruit, vegetables and flowers and other
? Protect bio-diversity in West Bengal
and develop agriculture and related activities – and, in general,
plan land use – in an ecologically sustainable way; and
? Ensure that the development of agriculture
and related activities is a key instrument of employment generation,
income-enhancement and, in general, qualitative improvement in the living
standards of the working people of the countryside.”
Bengal is the state where the growth rate of agriculture is still just
below 4% where as the national average is lower than 2%. If all the
proposals of land acquisition are materialized then also less than 1%
of agricultural land will be acquired. In a state which has achieved
an agricultural growth rate of 4% consistently without failure despite
natural calamity, the question of bewailing on presumed destabilization
of food security on acquisition of 1% agricultural does not arise at
all. These issues are deliberately raised just to gain political mileage
“A rational land use policy requires a
modern and scientific data base. In particular, the new demands for
land in different spheres of development have brought to the fore the
need to reform and update the systems of land statistics in West Bengal.
The State Government intends to revamp the statistical system with respect
to land use, and to undertake a three-pronged medium-term and short
term program in this regard:
1. The Government
will establish an information system on the land that is based on annual
plot-by-plot verification of land tenure, land use, irrigation and cropping.
It has been estimated that such a data base can be built over a period
of five or six years, and the Government will organize the administration
and the arrangements for a changeover to such a system of consolidated
land records in the near future.
2. The Government
has initiated a program to create, in the short run, a land bank. All
district administrations have been asked to provide information on vacant
land in the districts in the state sector in the first instance and
on significant and unused tracts of land in the private sector in the
next instance. The objective of the State Government is that, in future,
when land is required for industrialization, housing and infrastructural
development the State Government be able to specify land identified
through rational criteria as being available for industrialization.
3. The Government
of West Bengal will begin an exercise to scientifically evaluate the
demand for land in the State for different development activities. Evaluation
will be made, in particular, of the demand for land for cultivation
and related activity, urbanization, housing, physical infrastructure,
and industry for over a five year and a ten year period.”
Of these three
steps the second one has already been completed. The state government
has identified 23,000 acres of land which can be used for industrial
purposes but can not be used for setting up heavy industries as the
plots are fragmented. The report has been submitted to the assembly.
It has been decided that these plots will be used for developing small
and medium scale industries.
to the land losers is a sensitive issue. When the government is acquiring
their land, the compensation package should be as good as possible.
Till now two major compensation packages has been announced – one
for TATA motors project at Singur and another for Jindal steel project
For Singur the compensation awarded
was Rs. 8.6lakh for single-cropped land and Rs. 12lakh for multi cropped
237 registered bargadars (sharecroppers)
were given compensation to the tune of 25% of the amount paid to the
land owners. The
State Government had announced
that every unregistered sharecropper would be provided compensation/rehabilitation
subject to verification. Subsequently, 170 unregistered sharecroppers
were identified for compensation after verification. Over 1300 people
from the families of those whose land has been acquired and over 400
persons from landless families have been enrolled with the WBIDC for
various training programmes like automobile repairing, electrical work,
welding etc. WBIDC is paying stipend to these trainees. This would make
them employable in the upcoming industries. Self help groups of women
have been formed and they are being trained for providing services like
catering and tailoring. Agricultural workers have been absorbed through
the generation of work in the development and construction activities
in the plant site. All these measures have been initiated in order to
ensure that employment generation in the plant site, now as well as
in future, directly benefits the local people who were dependent on
For Shalboni the package is one
step ahead of this.
Three phase compensation has been declared
1. the land price will be decided after bilateral talk with the
farmers n 50% of the total money to be paid will be paid at spot
other 50% will be deposited to a insurance company in M.I.S SCHEME which
will be monitored by local D.M n the farmers will get monthly income
2. Jindals will give job to one member of each land loser family directly
to their company according to their qualification ranging from truck
drive to technicians.
3. Most important point Jindals will give share of this project to the
land loser families for free Every family will get share of amount equal
to the price of their land
Now it can be easily said that
about the compensation package West Bengal is setting an example in
the whole country.
Then why this agitation?
History says and we all must
see eye to eye that the owners of agricultural land, whatever it may
be single crop or multi crop, have emotional bias or sentiments and
these get transmitted at the first hand when the lands are proposed
to acquired no matter for a better cause or not. The same happened in
Haldia and in Rajarhat also resulting unexpected defeat of then standing
M.L.A in the election. But the surging wave of protest and resistance
that created commotion at the higher magnitude at last faded and order
prevailed. The emotional exuberance raised at Singur also was of same
nature to which agitation and riot organized by rowdies instigated by
a few political parties aggravated the situation. The irony of fate
is that those people who were against the project at the beginning are
now working there including local opposition leaders and workers.
closed or sick factory land
There is a
allegation against the state government that they are not at all trying
to set up new industries in the plots of closed factories. Actually
it is true that there is a huge amount of land lying unutilized in these
closed units and from infrastructural point of view those land can be
used for setting up new industries. The state government asked Webcon
to conduct a survey on this in the year 2004. According to that survey
report, 41,078 acres of land are lying unutilized.
Out of which
11,152 acres and 8,000 acres of land are there in the closed tea gardens
of Jalpiguri and Darjeeling district respectively.
of land are there in the Burdwan district and the major portion of this
is with the central government undertaking.
of land are lying unutilized with 66 closed industries in the district
of Kolkata ,Howrah, Hoogly, and North 24 Pgns.
I think no
one will say that it is possible to develop heavy industries in the
closed tea gardens. Moreover many tea gardens have been reopened after
this survey. The state government is trying to formulate a package for
the closed gardens so that the tea industry can be saved.
The plots in
other districts are so fragmented that it is impossible to set up heavy
industries on those lands.
There are some
plots more than 100 acres and some are more that 250 acres also. But
the problem is that the state government can acquire new land for industrialization
but does no have the legal right to acquire the land of closed or sick
(Board for Industrial & Financial Reconstruction) can give the approval
for transfer of closed or sick industry land. Out of almost 500 closed
or sick industries in west Bengal, 334 cases are pending before B.I.F.R
for a long time and thus those lands can not be reused. For example
the case of sen-rallay (not the exact spelling) is pending before
B.I.F.R from 1992 and the size of plot is 400 acres. Same thing can
be said for Tyer Corporation, Bengal immunity, Bharat brakes and valves,
BOGL, and many more. Despite constant effort from the state government
it has failed to acquire those plots.
In many cases
the plots are kept in mortgage before the bank or other financial concerns
or the labor payment is due and the matter is before the court. So it
is impossible to set up new industries on these lands.
of closed industries
the state government is trying to reopen or rejuvenate the closed or
SAIL has recently
decided to invest Rs. 10,000 crore in the modernisation of the IISCO
factory at Burnpur, which will be one of the biggest public sector investment
projects currently being undertaken in the country. The Central Government
had earlier decided to privatize this sick unit. It was the protracted
struggle waged by the IISCO workers and the principled position adopted
by the West Bengal Government which prevented privatization and subsequently
led to the revival of IISCO. Similarly, Bengal
had become a sick PSU, is being revived with Central investments worth
Rs 440 crore. M.AM.C Durgapur has been acquired jointly by two
PSU s Coal India and Damodar
Valley Corporation (DVC). After so much of delay the National
Instruments Limited, Kolkata is all set to be acquired by Jadavpur University.
The two units of National Fertilizer ( Haldia and Durgapur)are also
about to reopen.
Among the reopened
tea estates there are Ramjhora tea estate, Kathalguri tea estate, Rampur
tea estate, Chunchula tea estate, Chamurchi tea estate, Shikarpur-Bhandarpur
tea estate, Samsing tea estate.
like Jessop , Dunlop, Ballavpur Paper, Sulekha have also been reopened
by the private entrepreneurs.
Chemical hub and it’s
relevance in West Bengal.
is chemical hub?
Chemical hub is an industrial
zone where many chemical, petrochemical and related industries are located
and they are interdependent for raw materials. There must be some other
companies providing various services to others also. The starting activities
in a Chemical hub are refining and naphtha/gas cracking which are carried
out in Refineries and Naphtha Crackers or Gas Crackers followed by a
series of intermediate products, manufactured by a \ number of downstream
units. The end products are finished consumer and engineering goods
used for varied uses e.g. for packaging, ~hoes, clothing, auto industry,
other household appliances, various plastic products, irrigation use,
etc. These linkages of this' industrial units with each other, the common
location, and the common supply of utilities and other services all
combine to provide a very competitive environment for the manufacturing
units, thereby making the Hub a very attractive location for manufacturing.
Chemical hub at Haldia:
The Government of India has taken a decision to establish chemical hubs
in India In 2005,the department of Chemicals and Petrochemicals under
the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers of the Government
of India introduced the concept of Mega Chemical Industrial Estates
(MCIEs), which are, as the name indicates, chemical hubs. A consultant
was appointed by the Department to study and recommend suitable locations.
The consultant organization studied various locations all along the
coast of India from Gujarat up to West Bengal, and short listed three
locations. -Haldia was one of the short listed locations, the other
two being Dahej
in Gujarat and Vizag in Andhra
The basic raw materials for
a chemical hub are crude oil and naphtha. These commodities are transported
in bulk by sea using large tankers, and therefore a chemical hub has
to be located near a port facility. Crude oil is the raw material for
the refinery. The refinery produces naphtha (along with other products),
which is the basic raw material for the cracker plants. Naphtha can
also be imported directly.
There are certain infrastructural
The State Government has already
approached Government of India for establishment of a deep sea port
in West Bengal. This is a necessary requirement for the industrial development
of West Bengal~ because Haldia Dock Complex is a riverine port; and
has limited drift of about 9 meters. A deep sea port with a draft of
15 meters would allow large ships and tankers to come to West Bengal.
The deep sea port is an essential infrastructure for the Chemical Hub
in West Bengal. Government of India has already accepted the proposal
to set up a deep sea port~ The Ministry of Shipping has initiated the
process of selection: of a consultant agency which will identify the
suitable location, estimate the cost, and manage the project implementation.
There is a proposal to extend
the fret corridor up to Haldia which will further help tha cause.
The Haldia region is a suitable
location for chemical hub, because of the presence of IOC Refinery,
Haldia Petrochemicals, Mitsubishi Chemicals and other units, and because
of the availability of port facilities. Later if the deep sea port materializes,
this will also not be very distant from Haldia. These were the factors
which prompted the consultants appointed by Government of India to shortlist
the Haldia region. There is no other suitable location in West Bengal
because West Bengal has a very small coastline and a major portion of
which falls within the protected ecologically fragile Sundarbans. The
chemical hub cannot be located in interior areas.
If chemical hub has to be built
in West Bengal it has to be Haldia, no other place.
Investment related issues:
In order to bring in an anchor
investor, whose presence will attract downstream investors, the 'State
Government has entered into an agreement with Indian Oil Corporation.
In terms of that agreement IOC Will set up another refinery of 15 million
tones capacity (linked to the establishment of deep sea port), a paraxylene
plant, and other units. If the Chemical Hub becomes a reality then the
amount of investment by IOC alone will be more than 10,000 crores.
The state government has also
identified the anchor developer for the project and has entered into
an agreement with the New Kolkata International Development Private
Limited which is a consortium formed by the Salim Group of Indonesia
Universal Success Enterprise Limited, Unitech Limited of India.
There is a debate about the
inclusion of Salim group into the project due to their anti communist
past. I think this is a baseless issue. Siemens is a multinational company
which had its link with Hitler. It is doing business in India from those
days but nobody has said anything about this. Why?
Salim group is not coming here
for charity. They are coming for business, profit. Actually every investor
is coming for profit. Now our interest is in overall growth of our state
and creation of new jobs. Every investor has to obey the laws of our
country. They can’t do anything they want.
So where is the problem if
they do business here obeying the laws of the land and creating new
jobs for the unemployed youth?
Chemical hub: will it
help the economy booming?
Chemical hubs established in
different parts of the world contributed largely to the economic growth
of that part of the world.
Like, the Singapore Chemical
Cluster has become a strong pillar of growth for the Singapore economy
in the recent years.
In Dahej, Gujrat also it has
created many jobs and helped in overall development of the area.
In West Bengal, Haldia petrochemical
has created over 47,000 direct jobs and more indirect employment. HPL
alone employs more than 900 employees and 710 downstream industries
of HPL has created more than 47,000 direct jobs. About indirect employment
HPL alone has given indirect employment to more than 2000 person. The
total indirect employment is more than 1 lakh. Imagine if one company
with its downstream can create so many jobs then a how a chemical hub
will help in solving the employment problem of the state.
Environmental issues related
to a chemical hub are a point of debate for last couple of months in
West Bengal mainly. There are various misconceptions among the mass
of which many are deliberately created just to make people confused
.In the recent past the chemical hub proposed near Haldia has
been linked to Bhopal gas disaster and most interestingly with French
aircraft carrier Clemenceau which was bringing 40-50 tons of Asbestos
to the Gujrat coast.
is a fact, but that does not mean we stop setting up any kind of chemical
plant in the country. An accident teaches us how to avoid that kind
of accident next time. There are many chemical / petrochemical projects
running throughout India successfully without causing any kind of environmental
In Dahej, Gujrat
there is a zone totally dedicated to chemical / petrochemical units
which has got international appreciation for its environmental management
Petrochemicals Limited has also got many awards related to environment
since it started functioning.
Different environment related
awards received by Haldia
source: website of HPL
on ISO-14001 by M/s Det Norske Veritas, Netherlands
on OHSAS-18001 by M/s Det Norske Veritas, Netherlands.
|British Safety Council's
award of 5 STARS for Health & Safety Management Systems
|Ranked first for
its Safety Management by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), 2001-2002.
|Ranked first for
its Safety Management by Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), 2001-2002.
|Ranked first for
its excellent Environment & Safety Management by West Bengal Pollution
Control Board and Indian Chamber of Commerce, 2002-2003
|ICMA (Indian Chemicals
Manufacturers Association) Award 2002-03 for Excellence in Management
When environmental standards can be
maintained in India ,more specifically in West Bengal also, in same
kind of company therefore we can say that it can also be maintained
in new chemical hub also.
issue is totally false. It was about to come to the Gujarat coast but
it did not come because of protests by Greenpeace activists. There is
no question of it coming to West Bengal and it has nothing to do with
the proposed chemical hub. This issue has been linked to the chemical
hub issue deliberately just for political mileage.
The chemical hub at Singapore is one
of the most sophisticated hubs in terms of technology and there also
the environmental standards are maintained strictly.
The chemical industry should
not be looked upon as one that would pose environmental issues, but
as one that could further development, and one that through its innovative
capacity, can provide viable solutions to tackle the environment issues.
This is evident through the efforts put forth by the industry prior
to the construction of a chemical plant and after the operations have
been put in place. For example, more and more industry members have
taken the initiative to conduct environment impact studies for their
intended investment. This is encouraged as ecological consideration
is vital to the company’s and perhaps the industry’s sustenance
and survival. Apart from state of art technologies employed in the construction
of new chemical plants, green design and green engineering are also taken
into consideration. Green design aims to lessen impact on environment
through energy and resource efficiency while green engineering promotes
the use of processes and products that are feasible and economical while
reducing the generation of pollution at the source and also minimizes
the risk to human health and the environment.
It is in the interest of the
State for the State Government to submit its application to the Government
of India for a chemical hub at the earliest. If West Bengal does not
apply to the Government of India for establishing a chemical hub, and
in addition to Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, other coastal States
like Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Kamataka and Maharashtra also apply, then chemical
hub will come up in those States.. West Bengal will be deprived of the
massive investment in infrastructure by the Government of India, and
the huge investment and consequent employment potential of a chemical
hub.. These investments will flow to the chemical hub into other states.
The last but
not the list the expectation cherished by 8 crores of people living
in west Bengal is to look forward to the all-round progress of our state
that will decide the future of the next generation.