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Committed to revival of PSUs, says Manmohan

Monday 25 December 2006

Special Correspondent

West Bengal needs a process of industrialisation

Burnpur (West Bengal): Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said on Sunday that the Union Government was committed to the modernisation and expansion of public sector enterprises.

Speaking after laying the foundation for the scheme for modernisation of the Indian Iron and Steel Company (IISCO), he said the Government did not have a "blind disinvestment policy."

There was an effective system for examining the viability of every loss-making public sector unit (PSU) to identify its long-term prospects for rehabilitation and growth. IISCO was an example, and the investment was the single largest in the State in a decade.

Historic city

Describing Burnpur as a historic city (the country’s first modern iron-making unit was started over a century ago at Kulti), Dr. Singh said the Rs. 9,500-crore investment would create new capacities and generate employment. It would help in the industrial regeneration of this potentially vibrant region.

"Ruhr valley" of India

Dr. Singh said Burnpur, located in the Bengal-Bihar steel and coal belt, was at one time expected to become the "Ruhr valley of India."

Dr. Singh said that many more PSUs would be revived as a result of the Government’s efforts, and hoped that this would be the dawn of a new era of industrialisation in West Bengal.

He did not touch upon the Singur controversy, but said West Bengal needed "a process of industrialisation, which is employment-intensive, welfare-enhancing and, on the whole, humane and just. Every section of society should benefit from the spinoff benefits of industrialisation."

"We have to move fast"

However, the country would have to give up its "chalta hai" attitude. "It cannot be business as usual any more. We have to move fast, quickly, and efficiently to catch up with our neighbours in East Asia."

Dr. Singh wondered why Lakshmi Mittal or Ratan Tata had to buy foreign companies to establish a global presence and expand steel capacities. "We need to introspect on this deeply. Is it to do with our industrial environment, our procedures, our bureaucracy and red tape that entrepreneurs shun domestic opportunity?" The time had come for a hard look at what must be done to build a stronger India.

See online : The Hindu

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