Rs. 2200 crore north projects

SILIGURI: State finance minister Amit Mitra today announced private investments to the tune of Rs 2,200 crore in different sectors at the first industry meet in north Bengal today.

Mitra said Siliguri-based PCM Group would invest around Rs 310 crore in dairy, hydel and railway sleeper sectors, while an instant noodles manufacturer would spend Rs 200 crore in north Bengal.

The minister said a realtor group would be investing around Rs 200 crore, while Hindustan Coca Cola Beverages Limited and a firm that makes packaging materials for Coca Cola would be together spending Rs 230 crore. An agro-based company will open a maize processing unit in Cooch Behar at the cost of Rs 300 crore.

The minister reeled off the names of several other firms, which, according to the state government, had evinced interest in investing in the region.

Kamal Kumar Mittal, representing the PCM Group, said: "We intend to make the best use of the strategic location of north Bengal. We were spreading out of the state because of certain reasons and losing encouragement to invest here. Now we are making fresh investments again in certain sectors."

Mayank Jalan, who represents the Keventer Group, said the company had developed a cold-store chain for vegetables (at Dabgram in Siliguri) and another project in Malda (an ice cream making unit). He said both the units would be inaugurated tomorrow.

Even though Mitra read out the investments, details like whether land was required for these projects and if so, whether the state would provide the investors with plots, were not clarified. Over 350 entrepreneurs attended the meet which was opened by chief minister Mamata Banerjee.

She announced a core committee comprising industrialists from north Bengal to oversee and expedite the implementations of projects.

"Invest in north Bengal which offers scope in small and ancillary industries, ranging from food processing to horticulture. Units on animal husbandry can also be set up," Mamata said. But horticulture minister Krishnendu Chowdhury was missing on stage today. Asked later, why he was not at the meet, he cited his wife's illness.

Mamata also met some members of the Mangar community from the hills. The Mangars want a welfare society. Mamata is likely to meet them in Darjeeling - she is scheduled to leave for the hills tomorrow.