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The agent of change

Print edition : Mar 11, 2005

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THE West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) is responsible for the promotion and development of medium and large-scale industries in the State. This premier State government agency improved its performance in the last two years, registering a cash profit after more than a decade. During the last fiscal it disbursed Rs.8,117 lakhs in loans, as against Rs.6,511 lakhs in the previous year. The average disbursement figure prior to 2002-03 was Rs.4,000 lakhs.

The WBIDC promotes medium and large-scale industries by giving loans; providing facilitation services through its "single window agency" (Shilpa Bandhu) and the State Investment Facilitation Centre (SIFC); promoting joint sector and assisted sector units in important industry segments strategic to the State government; developing business, trade and industrial links with domestic as well as foreign institutions and companies; and managing and operating State Incentive Schemes as a nodal agency of the West Bengal government.

The WBIDC has always laid special emphasis on the need to disseminate information about the improved investment scene in the State and the government's industrial policy initiatives, highlighting the thrust areas for rapid growth. With this objective in mind, it undertakes publicity campaigns in the print media and also participates in various events such as exhibitions, seminars, discussion meets and road shows.

I-WIN, the WBIDC's joint venture project with ICICI, plays an important role in its efforts to develop infrastructure to attract investments. I-WIN will be the project management consultant for two major projects, Manikanchan, a gems and jewellery park, and Toy Park, a facility to manufacture toys, under the build-and-operate scheme.

The State has a rich tradition in gems and jewellery trade. The skills of Bengali artisans are evident in their beautiful products and the appreciation they receive the world over. The phenomenal export-led growth of the gems and jewellery sector and the abundance of local skill prompted the State government to set up Manikanchan - the first green field Special Economic Zone in the country that will provide infrastructure and support to prospective gems and jewellery manufacturers. The five-acre park in Kolkata's Salt Lake area has been developed at a project cost of Rs.25 crores. There are 30 modules with a total carpet area of 1,16,000 square feet, of which 19 modules covering an area of 72,000 sq ft have already been booked. Manikanchan will provide fully developed modern infrastructure for the jewellery industry, thereby accelerating the growth of local enterprise, and facilitate investment from other States and from abroad.

The world toy industry is worth $71 billion. In India, however, this sector generates only Rs.450 crores ($91 million). The Toy Park in Kolkata seeks to provide an impetus to this sector by capitalising on the city's intrinsic strengths, which include its geographical proximity to South-East Asian countries, the low cost of operations, and the available infrastructure and port facilities. Spread over 2.28 acres in Salt Lake, the Toy Park will provide opportunities for focussed production and marketing of toys, sports goods, gift items, handicrafts and their sub-components.

The agro and food processing industry has been identified as one of the thrust areas for rapid growth, and the WBIDC is working to set up a Food Park at Sankrail, Howrah. It has taken initiatives to conceive and implement other infrastructure projects such as rubber, foundry and garments parks based on the concept of competitive industry clusters.

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