India’s Reliance chief says anti-Nano protests may hurt business

MUMBAI, August 28, 2008 (AFP) – India’s most powerful businessman Mukesh Ambani has condemned protests against a plant building the world’s cheapest car, saying they hurt the country’s ability to attract needed investment.

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Ambani, chairman of giant Reliance Industries Ltd, extended support to fellow industrialist Ratan Tata, who last week warned he would move the factory building the “Nano” car out of West Bengal state if the protests continued.

“The Nano project is an unique and innovative initiative which will establish India’s position as a small car hub,” Ambani, whose Reliance Industries is India’s largest private sector company, said in a statement.

“This (unrest) will be counter-productive for the country’s economic growth, its global image as well as our ability to attract investments from across the world.”

Ambani’s statement came as protesters blocked a key highway in West Bengal for a fourth day, stranding thousands of trucks loaded with perishable goods, and pushing up food prices in Kolkata.

Protesters have staged months of violent demonstrations against the a