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Tata: Will It Stay in West Bengal?

Maybe, if the local protests and hostility die down. But for now, the carmaker is planning to move Nano production elsewhere

Sources close to Tatas said Pantnagar in Uttarakhand and Pune in Maharashtra were emerging as the most likely alternative locations. When contacted, a majority of vendors said they had "no option but to follow the Tatas in case of a pullout." Around 60 vendors, who were set to make a collective Rs 500-crore investment at

the site, would also suffer if the company shifted, the sources added.

A Tata Motors spokesperson said, "The situation around the Nano plant continues to be hostile and intimidating. There is no way this plant could operate efficiently unless the environment became congenial and supportive of the project. We came to West Bengal hoping we could add value, prosperity and create job opportunities in the communities in the state."

In its statement, the company said it has assessed the prevailing situation at Singur after five continuous days of cancellation of work, "and believes that there is no change in the volatile situation around the plant". However, it added that people employed from West Bengal could be accommodated at other locations of the company. "To minimize the impact this may have on the recently-recruited and trained people from West Bengal, the company is exploring the possibility of absorbing them at its other plant locations," it said.

Sources in the know of the situation though indicated that the company is still open to a last-minute solution.

"This may well be a posturing by the company to show its seriousness on the threat. However, if there is no positive response, the company will pull out," a source said. Speaking on condition of anonymity, company officials said there had been a complete breakdown of operations at Singur.

"We were being held more or less hostage. Our employees had to be escorted by police, contractual workers could not enter the plant, and movement of trucks and crucial material was hampered. How can we be expected to continue?" a Tata official asked.

Tatas said some of the international consultants working at the plant had returned home and the construction work in the plant had been stalled since August 28. "In fact, the existing environment of obstruction, intimidation and confrontation has begun to impact the ability of the company to convince several of its experienced managers not to relocate."

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