Industry fears Singur, Manesar rerun at Haldia
A day after the alleged abduction of three ABG Haldia Bulk Terminals (HBT) officials, the industry and the Opposition came out in support of the company, criticising the Mamata Banerjee government for its inaction in maintaining law and order situation at Haldia.
While industry bodies raised concerns over chances of a possible rerun of “Singur or a Manesar-like situation", the Left and the Congress came out in public supporting the firm, against the alleged militant trade unionism by the Trinamool Congress-backed INTTUC at Haldia.
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On Sunday morning, three HBT officials — Manpreet Jolly, Jagadish Behara and Bushan Patil, including his wife and 1-year-old daughter — were allegedly abducted at gun point by an unidentified mob. They were later released and told “not to come back to Haldia".
Criticising the government over the incident, Assocham secretary general D S Rawat said, “If the state government does not take any necessary steps against the people responsible for the abduction of ABG officials, it will create a negative image among industrialists."
Echoing his words, Kallol Datta, president of the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said, “While one has to look into the retrenchment of workers by the firm, militant trade unionism is not acceptable. We do not want a rerun of what happened with Tata at Singur or Maruti Suzuki at Manesar, in Bengal. The law and order situation must be restored by the state. It is unfortunate that the union affiliated to the party in power is doing it."
The abduction drama happened even after HBT paid Rs 17, 45,730 for the deployment of police personnel towards restoration of peace, based on a Calcutta High Court order.
“If people in West Bengal thought that it would be a reincarnated Trinamool Congress in the government, even after the Singur incident, they were wrong. At Haldia, in the name of unionism, TMC is running an extortion racket. Even after visiting the area a couple of weeks ago, Banerjee did not intervene in the issue. This is going to be worse than Singur," said CPI(M) leader Mohammad Salim.
On the other hand, the Congress state leadership too fired a fresh salvo at Banerjee. “The Bengal government must sort out Haldia issue. We will take up the issue. I am going to New Delhi, to meet the shipping minister and the state leadership is also writing a letter to the Prime Minister to intervene on the issue," said senior Congress leader Manas Ranjan Bhunia. On Sunday, Suvendu Adhikari, Trinamool MP from Tamluk denied any involvement by TMC workers on the abduction incident.
Last week, the Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) moved the High Court seeking permission to terminate its agreement with HBT, that has stopped work at berths 2 and 8. The company had stopped operations at the second and eighth berths of the dock complex, following unrest over the retrenchment of 275 employees at AHBT.
“The Banerjee government has failed to attract any major investment in the state. A break down of law and order in Haldia would damage the state’s image further and ruin chances of attracting investments even in the future," an industrialist said.