Thursday, September 25, 2008

Tata Group to quit unfinished factory in Singur

KOLKATA - India's Tata group was moving out of an unfinished factory built to make the world's cheapest car due to violent protests over a land dispute, reports said on Wednesday.

Tata was moving equipment from the plant in Singur in West Bengal to an unspecified facility following a deadlock in talks between state authorities and the protesters, the Press Trust of India reported.

A Tata Motors spokesman declined to comment, but state police confirmed that laden trucks were seen leaving the plant in Singur, a suburb of Kolkata, capital of the Marxist-ruled state.

The northern state of Uttarakhand, which already houses a sprawling Tata Motor plant manufacturing commercial vehicles, said company executives were scheduled to begin talks on Thursday for land for the Nano project.

'Senior officials of the Tata Motors are coming to us tomorrow for talks with our government regarding the venue for the Nano project,' state industries secretary PC Sharma told reporters in state capital Dehradun.

The United News of India, quoting unnamed company officials, said the group has already told suppliers to deliver spare parts for the jellybean-shaped Nano to the existing Tata Motor facility in Uttarakhand.

Tata ploughed US$350 million into its Singur factory, but it cannot complete the plant - it is 90 per cent built - and begin production due to violent protests by the state opposition party and farmers who say their land was stolen.

Efforts to resolve the stand-off failed again on Wednesday as protest leaders left a compromise meeting with state governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi, officials said.

Tata Motors had said it hoped to launch the four-door Nano in October in time for the big-spending Hindu festival season. The company wants to sell the car for 100,000 rupees (US$2,150). -- AFP

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