With more than 7000 micro, small and medium industries, north Bengal has the geographical advantage of reaching out to markets in many neighbouring countries. (Image used for representation).(HT PHOTO.)
Companies that are shifting facilities from China because of the Covid-19 outbreak should be offered base in north Bengal districts, feel industry and commerce bodies from the region.
The local business groups say that the state as well as the Centre should see a golden opportunity in the trouble China is facing. North Bengal shares borders with the Indian states of Sikkim and Assam as well as Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal. The last two countries and Sikkim share borders with China.
Rajendra Kumar Baid, general secretary, Cooch Behar District Chamber of Commerce and Industries has already written to chief minister Mamata Banerjee, requesting her to utilize the opportunity.
“Many companies are moving out of China as they have don’t feel safe anymore. India is being seen as the next destination by some companies from Europe, USA and Japan,” said Baid.
“We can invite a few companies to Cooch Behar district where around 2000 acres of government land is lying unutilized alongside the Torsha River,” said Baid. “This is what I wrote to the chief minister,” he added.
“North Bengal is connected to the rest of India by rail, road and air routes. The Asian Highways Network connects north Bengal to Myanmar and other countries,” said Baid.
Sanjit Saha, chairman, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), North Bengal chapter, said, “India is now being seen as a beacon of hope by potential investors and North Bengal fits the bill. Availability of cheap land and labour makes the region an attractive destination. The CII will write to the state and the Centre. This is the time to highlight the advantages of this region before potential investors.”
Niranjan Mittal, director of Siliguri-based PCM Group of Companies that has investments in many countries, said, “Though it is early to say that all companies will move their investments from China to India, the crisis at least presents an opportunity worth exploring.”
“We need to ensure ease in doing business through a single window system. With the Centre trying to change its policies for eastern states, north Bengal can gain,” said Mittal.
Surajit Paul, secretary, North Bengali Industries Association said, “With more than 7000 micro, small and medium industries, north Bengal has the geographical advantage of reaching out to markets in many neighbouring countries.”
North Bengal development department minister Rabindranath Ghosh said, “We will provide land to the companies that invest in north Bengal. The region has a land bank and offers pleasant climatic condition. Also, there are some natural advantages for food and fruit processing and agri-based industries.”