West Bengal to organise business summit at Haldia

Last Updated: Tue, Nov 06, 2012 17:00 hrs

Haldia, Nov 6 (IANS) The West Bengal government Tuesday announced it would hold a business summit in this industrial port town in East Midnapore district from Jan 17 to attract investors.

The announcement came in the backdrop of industry experts' concern over the state's investment prospects following a port equipment operator's decision to quit West Bengal over "poor law and order" situations at Haldia.

The second edition of the "Bengal Leads" business summit would be inaugurated by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, state Industries Minister Partha Chatterjee told mediapersons here.

A large number of business leaders and associations are expected to take part in the three-day event, which was first held in January in Kolkata.

The announcement came following the recent controversy in which Haldia Bulk Terminal Private Limited (HBT), which was operating mechanised berths two and eight at the Haldia Dock Complex (HDC), announced its decision to quit operations.

HBT, a joint venture of ABG Infralogistics and French Louis Dreyfus Armateurs, recently quit Bengal over "poor law and order" and "safety" concerns of its employees, prompting industry experts to raise concern over the state's growth prospects.

"For us, safety and security of our employees is of paramount importance," HBT CEO Gurpreet Malhi had said, referring to the abduction of three officers of the company by a mob.

The state government and the police have, however, had termed the abduction as "cooked-up".

Chatterjee claimed that the industrial scenario was bright and the entrepreneurs had full faith in the state.

Interestingly, the government opted for Haldia, where the central government imposed a moratorium on setting up major industries as the port town was found critically polluted.

The centre has not lifted the moratorium, imposed by the environment and forests ministry in 2009, despite repeated appeals from the Banerjee-led state government. Instead it extended the moratorium twice during Banerjee's regime.

"I have received many proposals for setting up new projects at Haldia. But till now the environment ministry has not lifted the moratorium," the minister, who came here to review the preparations before the business summit, said.

Representatives of industrial bodies like Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industries of India (Assocham) and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) were present at the media meet.

The CII welcomed the initiative to showcase Haldia as a strong business hub .

"We welcome the state government's efforts to promote destination Haldia. It is a welcome step, and we believe that such an effort will enhance Haldia's profile. We at CII will extend all kind of support and cooperation to the state government," it said in a statement.

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