'Mamata misleading Jangalmahal on development'

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Kolkata, Aug 10: A day after West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee addressed a rally in Belpahari in West Midnapore, considered a hub of Maoist activities even a few days ago, Opposition Forward Bloc took a dig at the CM, saying she was misleading the people of Jangalmahal on issue of development.

Bloc General Secretary Ashok Ghosh, a veteran leader, mocked the CM's frequent visit to places like Darjeeling and Jangalmahal and said she was spending more time outside the state capital. He said Banerjee, who made her fifth visit to the troubled Jangalmahal area after coming to power, was announcing several development projects for the Jangalmahal but they would not be kept. He said the CM's tall promises on development have stood exposed in the last 14 months and she was misleading the people. "The consequences will be disastrous," Ghosh added.

Left Front chairperson Biman Bose, too, criticised Banerjee, saying she was more busy with a populist brand of politics and not real development. He said the public distribution system in the region was crumbling and there was serious drinking water scarcity.

Congress, an ally of the Trinamool Congress in government in Bengal, however, praised Banerjee although added that it was the central funds for development in the Maoist-hit backward region in the state which eased things for the CM. The Congress also expressed interest in launching an awareness campaign in the Jangalmahal area about the central funds and welfare schemes. State Congress chief Pradip Bhattacharya, however, said that his party would continue to oppose the state government if it adopted any policy against the people's interest.

Banerjee, meanwhile, said she went to Belpahari on Wednesday to mark the occasion of International Day for World's Indigenous People which was on Thursday (she called it 'World Tribal Day') and said she strongly believed that rights to forest should lie with the tribals. The Trinamool chief also wrote on her social networking site following the Belpahari meeting that peace and development were doing wonders in Belpahari.

Poor industrial growth in Bengal

Last month, a report released by the department of industrial policy and promotion under the Union ministry of commerce and industry revealed that West Bengal, at the end of the first year of the Mamata Banerjee government, has lagged at the bottom of the industrial investment index in the last three years. The Statesman published a story on this. According to the story, the central report said that West Bengal received industrial investment of just Rs 325 crore in 2011.

The Statesman said it was the lowest investment in the last three years, much below the Rs 1,163 crore that the state had got in 2010. The year before, the amount read Rs 632 crore. The start was much encouraging though. Industrialists welcomed the change of guard in Kolkata and proposed Rs 3,02,515 crore of fresh investment in Bengal by means of filing 135 industrial entrepreuner memorandums (IEM), the highest ever investment proposals since 1992. But by the end of the year, a paltry 33 actually saw the light of the day, the central government report said. The Statesman report said that the scenario is not encouraging in 2012, either.

From January till March, the number of IEMs filed by the industrial community is 24 with a total investment volume of just over Rs 1,200 crore. Of them, only nine have been implemented so far, drawing an investment of Rs 117 crore.

Experts in the field said the economic slowdown in India in general and lack of a definite government land policy have been primarily responsible for the situation.

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