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20 May 2017

North investment proposals - Government offers assistance for entrepreneurs

Participants at the summit in Siliguri. Picture by Passang Yolmo
BIRESWAR BANERJEE, TT, Siliguri, May 19: The state government has received investment proposals to the tune of Rs 1,700 crore for setting up units for agriculture-related activities, food processing and allied infrastructure in north Bengal.
The proposals have flown in at the "Agro Business Synergy - Focus North Bengal" - a two-day summit hosted by the state government, in association with the Confederation of Indian Industry.
"We have received proposals for investments to the tune of Rs 1,361 crore in the agro-based sector. North Bengal has a good potential for such businesses and we are ready to extend co-operation to investors," Aroop Biswas, the state PWD minister, said at the inaugural session of the event yesterday.
Today, as the summit concluded, Rajiva Sinha, the additional chief secretary of state department of industry, commerce & enterprises, said the total amount of investments had climbed to Rs 1,702 crore.
Among those are proposals to set up cold storages (Rs 64.05 crore), food & beverage units (Rs 186.85 crore), fruit processing (Rs.304.59 crore) and rice mills (Rs 179.88 crore) and poultry and similar units (Rs 79.05 crore), he said.
Added to these, proposals totalling Rs 536 crore have been received for establishing agri-business infrastructure on government-private partnership.
Officials of the state departments of agriculture, agri-marketing, food processing & horticulture, animal resource development, food & supplies, fisheries, biotechnology, north Bengal development, Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority, were present at the summit. They are elated that around 350 investors have submitted proposals at the summit.
Tourism minister Gautam Deb said at the meet: "It is good to learn that so many entrepreneurs are ready to set up units in north Bengal. But we must be equally careful and should take consistent initiatives to ensure that the proposals do not remain limited to discussions. The state government is all set to help investors and we believe our officials, along with trade bodies like the CII, will see that each proposal has become a reality."
Although such investment proposals had been mooted before also, many of them haven't been realised.
"The entrepreneurs have highlighted some shortcomings like problem in industrial power supply in North and South Dinajpur districts. We will sort out such issues soon. Also, we will carry out a regular follow-up on the proposals and want to affirm that all proposed investments are made," Sinha said.
In the course of the session, the state government officials, including Sinha, explained before the prospective investors that the administration had already set up a facilitation centre for the entrepreneurs at Uttarkanya, the branch secretariat here. From the centre, they can get clearances of their projects as well as learn about options to obtain financial assistance and necessary technology.
"The state has also set up dedicated help desks to help investors get clearances. Also, units in food processing, dairy, food and beverages, animal husbandry, rice mill, flour mills, cold storages, food parks, fertiliser making units and industrial parks can generate huge employment," he said.
Rajeev Lochan, the chairman of the CII's north Bengal zonal council, said the summit was a success.
"We will continue our endeavour to host such events so that prospective investors can learn about the region and the facilities they can get from the government. During these two days, they also had the option to speak to experts who can provide them with necessary information about the projects. The CII will also work in consonance with the government to see that investments are being made in the region as per the proposals," Lochan said.

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