Guwahati: Tata group chairman Ratan Tata on Tuesday said he and other top industrialists in the country had come forward for investment in Assam drawn by its opportunities and potential.
“We are here because we were called by the Assam government. We are drawn by the opportunities, potential and promises in the state that have not been realised,” Tata told reporters.
“I had come here a few years ago. My visit this time is an eye opener because Guwahati has changed ... an evidence of development and prosperity,” he said after attending the first Assam Investment Advisory Board (AIAB) meeting with other industrialists and chief minister Tarun Gogoi.
“A new Assam is here. Most of us have been drawn by both the opportunities and challenges here. We don’t need to be here as we are running successful business in other parts of the country. But we are here by choice,” Tata asserted.
Asked if he would invest in the local bamboo industry here for rural prosperity, Tata said, “The Tatas are involved in the agro industry like tea in Assam. We will try and add value to the property we have here.”
To a query if a campus of Tata Consultancy Services would be set up here, he said, “TCS is committed to establishing a base in Assam and recognise the skills available here.”
A corpus fund of Rs10 crore was proposed to be created in the meeting for private-public sector partnership to identify the areas of interest to bring in global investment, Tata Sons director R.K. Krishna Kumar said.
When asked if there were apprehensions about law and order in the state, Kumar said, “We are absolutely confident of the law and order here making a dramatic change. That’s why we are here.”
On his company’s investment in the state, Unilever chairman M.S. Bangra said, “We have had a long history of association with Assam. In 2001, we had invested in a consumer production unit, one of the best in the country, employing 4000 people.”
Bharati Mittal Group vice-president Rakesh B. Mittal said, “We are absolutely happy. The government needs to facilitate the economic environment to bring in investment. We will work with farmers to increase their produce and quality.”
On Look East policy, former diplomat Ronen Sen said, “The government is serious about the policy and recognises that the progress of the country will not be successful without the development of the North East region and for revival of its traditional links with south east Asia.”
“Top industrialists of the country have shown a lot of interest for development of Assam and they are here today at our invitation. Every one of them responded positively and are committed to the development of our state, particularly rural areas, for inclusive development and growth,” chief minister Tarun Gogoi said.
He said the areas identified for investment were hotels, tourism, micro-finance, education and healthcare among others.
“Today is a good beginning for Assam to make progress with the rest of the country, upgrade skills in rural areas and create entrepreneurship,” he said.
Recognising there are bottlenecks for investment in the state, Gogoi said, “We have to face the challenges. The whole country has drawbacks, but we have to overcome them. There is shortage of electricity and manpower here, but we have to create the infrastructure.”
The AIAB, with top industrialists as its members, has been set up to drive investment, achieve economic growth and create sustainable livelihood in Assam and the North-East region, industry minister Pradyut Bordoloi said.