India’s Tata chief warns West Bengal of flight of industry

NEW DELHI, October 19, 2008 (AFP) – Tata group chief Ratan Tata, forced to relocate production of the world’s cheapest car from eastern India, has warned there could be a flight of capital and industry from the poverty-hit region. In an open letter to residents of communist-ruled West Bengal, Tata asked whether they wanted to build a prosperous state or “see the state consumed by the destructive political environment of confrontation, agitation, violence and lawlessness?”

The letter received here Saturday was published in West Bengal newspapers the previous day.

The tea-to-steel group earlier this month shifted production of the high-profile Nano car to the business-friendly western state of Gujarat, abandoning the original site in West Bengal.

The decision to move production followed a month of violent demonstrations by activists and evicted farmers who complained they were forced to give up their land for a pittance to make room for the factory.

“Many may have forgotten that West Bengal was a major centre for heavy industry and steel fabrication,” Tata said.

“Agitation and violence drove away many industries around 30 years ago. Is it therefore ironic that at this crucial time and moment of hope