Industry-agriculture balance needed for growth, says West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee

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Kolkata: West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday said that the state needs to strike a balance between industry and agriculture for economic growth, echoing her predecessor Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee.

Banerjee was speaking on the final day of the Bengal Global Business Summit 2018 in Kolkata.

With growth in agriculture slowing, Banerjee’s key challenge now is to create new jobs. While she fiercely resisted acquisition of farmland for industrial projects, she said she is not opposed to factories being set up in West Bengal.

As many as 110 agreements have been signed over the past two days, and if they were to materialize, they will result in an investment of Rs2.19 trillion, the state government said in a statement.

State commerce and industries minister Amit Mitra said about 2 million jobs will be created if the projects proposed over the past two days materialize. Considering the slow economic growth of the country this year, the response to the event was commendable, he said.

Cab aggregator Uber India Technology Pvt. Ltd signed a memorandum of understanding with the state government, aiming to create up to 100,000 “micro-entrepreneurship opportunities” over five years.

Uber’s rival Ola Fleet Technologies Pvt. Ltd has also committed to investing Rs300 crore to scale up services and create 5,000 new jobs in a year, said Mitra, who is also the finance minister of the state.

Under an agreement with the West Bengal Transport Infrastructure Development Corp., Ola is to acquire up to 5,000 cabs and hire unemployed people to drive them, the company said in a statement.

Uber, on the other hand, will identify potential driver-partners from across the state with the help of the state government, which will set up schools to train drivers, the company said in a statement.

Both Uber and Ola are lobbying the state government for permits to ply more cabs. Training more drivers will lead to better utilization of available cabs.

Among big ticket investments committed on Wednesday, Pranav Adani, managing director of Adani Wilmar Ltd, said his group had invested Rs750 crore in West Bengal. There are plans to double the capacity of the company’s edible oil refinery at Haldia from 1,600 tonnes. The group is also exploring opportunities to set up a port in the state, he added.livemint