Finding land for industry,the biggest question in Bengal: Yechury

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Kolkata, Sep 29 (UNI) CPI(M) Polit Bureau Member Sitaram Yechury today said the biggest question in West Bengal now was to find land for setting up industry, as the percentage of fallow land stood at less than one per cent in the state against the national average of 17 per cent.

''There is very high degree of concentration of agricultural activity in West Bengal. The state has a specific limitation that is very unique within the country. This is the real life problem which we have to appreciate,'' Mr Yechury, who is also a Member of Parliament, said while interacting with the members of the Merchants' Chamber of Commerce(MCC) here.

He estimated that the all India average for the land engaged in agriculture was 46 per cent, while such figure in the state's hilly areas like Darjeeling stood at 44 and in underdeveloped districts like Bankura at 56 per cent.

According to him, during the last three years around 7,000 acres of land were utilised for farm activity in West Bengal, while 29,900 were distributed among the landless during the same period.

'' This is not agriculture versus industry. We feel that we have reached the stage where without rapid industrialisation, the gains made from land reforms cannot be consolidated in future,'' he remarked.

He also felt that any process of industrialisation would have to be in accordance with modernisation of agriculture inviting a large public investment in farm sector for a largescale production.

The MP also batted for a modern law for acquiring land, since he felt that the existing one dates back to 1894, formulated during the British Rule for expansion of railways.

In the context of Foreign Domestic Investment(FDI) in the Indian retail sector, Mr Yechury said it did not aim at creating large employment opportunities despite ushering in technical upgradation and generating new production capacity.

MCC president Anupam Shah said the farm growth in West Bengal had been considerably higher than the all-India average, adding the agriculture sector contributed 20 per cent to the State Domestic Product(SDP) and supported nearly 60 per cent of rural workforce.

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