Mumbai, Dec 17: Singur was a “great disappointment” but Tata group may still go to West Bengal, hints outgoing Chairman of the group Ratan Tata. “Need not be Tata Motors. We have until the court decides this, the plant is still there. Whether it is Tata Motors or something else,” he said in an interview. He was asked about his recent statement that some day Tatas will go back to West Bengal considering the fact that Tata Motors had to shift to Gujarat after a bitter experience in Singur.
Tata, who will step down as Chairman of Tata group on Dec 28, said he had a great affinity with eastern Indian because it has not partaken in the growth and prosperity of the rest of the country. “If there is something that I could do to be involved with in eastern India, I would welcome that. You see, I lived in Jamshedpur for six years, very close to Kolkata and I used to be in Kolkata of and on.
“Bengali people are very nice people. So I have an affinity, don’t speak the language, that part of the country and to see something happen there would be quite a thrill for me,” he said. Building the cancer hospital in Kolkata, in itself, Tata said has been a thrill for him because lives can be saved in that part of the country. “It is something that I feel very proud that I have been able to do,” he said.
Speaking about Singur, where Tata Motors set up a factory to manufacture the world’s cheapest car but had to quit in the wake of protests over land acquisition a few years ago, Tata said, “It was a great disappointment, because we went to West Bengal, in a leap of faith thinking that part of the country was being ignored industrially.”
“I had a great regard for Buddhadeb Bhattacharya (the then Chief Minister). I thought he was really trying to industrialise West Bengal and I thought the plant we had could have created eventually 7000-8000 jobs.” He said he was enamoured by what they would do. It was not just another factory, it was not not just another plant.
“It was a new product that had never been done in India and we are taking to a place that has been ignored industrially for a long period of time. So I felt very good.” Tata said when the protests took place he was a little confused and confounded initially, whether it was a real problem or not. It just escalated and escalated and he figured this was not the place where they could be.
“So it was a great disappointment for me on all those grounds and I think Buddhadeb would have liked me to have stayed there and offered the plant protection. But you can’t run a plant on police protection. There has to be a police protection. There has to be a removal of the hostilities one way or another. So it was a disappointment for me,” he said.