As the spectre of Nandigram and Singur protests continues to haunt West Bengal, chief minister Mamata Banerjee this time is pushing hard to bring the state on the global investors’ map by starting off with a focus on road and infrastructure projects for which she met Nitin Gadkari in New Delhi on Thursday.
Banerjee, who is on a three-day visit to Delhi for the first time since winning the assembly elections in May, will meet minister for road transport and highways Gadkari where she will bring up pending roads and transport projects, including the deep sea port at Tajpur. Located nearly 200 km from Kolkata, the Tajpur project is expected to draw an investment of Rs 15,000 crore and generate 25,000 jobs in the state. Another, Sagarmala project, for which the Centre had allocated Rs 33,000 crore as part of the modernisation of ports and connectivity, will also figure in the talks today, according to sources.
It is believed that Banerjee shares a good relation with Gadkari unlike with any other BJP leaders. She is likely to approach in the future other key ministries including aviation, petroleum, agriculture, commerce and industries and railways for various developmental projects in West Bengal.
During an assembly election campaign at Egra in East Midnapore earlier this year, Gadkari had said, “As the transport minister, I had taken the initiative to bring a big automobile firm to Nandigram but the Trinamool Congress government drove the company away”.
Also, during his tenure as the shipping minister, Gadkari said he had taken the initiative to build a port at Tajpur in East Midnapore but alleged that his ministry did not receive any cooperation from the state government.
According to sources, Banerjee will also submit to Gadkari a report on the construction of rural roads in Bengal under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) Phase III.
Till last year, the West Bengal government is said to have received investment intentions worth Rs 2.84 trillion. “Total 86 MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) have been signed, 1,200 business to business meetings and 45 business to consumer meetings have been held,” Banerjee had said.
According to the state government statistics, total investment intentions valued at Rs 9.47 trillion were made between 2015 and 2019 in Bengal but Opposition leaders claimed that such proposals were rotting in files as nothing concrete has happened so far.
After meeting Gadkari, Banerjee is likely to meet Lok Sabha MP Kanimozhi Karunanidhi of Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and renowned poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar and actor Shabana Azmi.