September 02, 2008

Tata Motors suspends work on Nano plant in Singur

Kolkata: Tata Motors Ltd. has been constrained to suspend the construction and commissioning work at the Nano plant in Singur in view of continued confrontation and agitation at the site. This decision was taken in order to ensure the safety of its employees and contract labour, who have continued to be violently obstructed from reporting to work. The company has assessed the prevailing situation in Singur, after five continuous days of cancellation of work, and it believes that there is no change in the volatile situation around the plant. The project’s auto ancillary partners, who had commenced work at their respective plants in Singur, were also constrained to suspend work in line with Tata Motors’ decision.

In view of the current situation, the company is evaluating alternate options for manufacturing the Nano car at other company facilities and a detailed plan to relocate the plant and machinery to an alternate site is under preparation. To minimise 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.

Construction of the plant has faced challenges at various points of time. There has however been a significant decline in the attendance of their staff and contractual labour since August 24, 2008. Some of the international consultants working on the plant have returned home and the construction work in the plant has been stalled since August 28, 2008. In fact, the existing environment of obstruction, intimidation and confrontation has begun to affect the ability of the company to convince several of its experienced managers to relocate and work in the plant. Further, several persons engaged in construction and commissioning work, who had taken accommodation at Singur and nearby areas have since vacated and have gone away due to intimidation and fear.

Construction of the Nano project comprising of the Nano manufacturing facilities and the vendor park, a normal feature in modern world-class auto plants, commenced in January 2007.  The work on the construction and commissioning of the plant had been nearing completion in line with planned schedules. During construction, this project employed about 4000 employees at its peak including several hundred young residents from and around the region.

As a part of its commitment to enhance the employability of its people. Tata Motors has trained over 762 ITIs and other apprentices from the region and the state. They have undergone retraining at the Tata Motors' facilities in Jamshedpur and Pune. Tata Motors’ efforts to offer medical care in and around the region, which had handled over 17,000 medical cases, have been forcefully stopped by violent agitators. As part of the proposed integrated auto cluster in Singur, about 60 key auto ancillary suppliers to the Nano have taken possession of land in the integrated complex and have invested about Rs500 crore towards construction of their plants and procurement of their equipment and machinery.

Commenting on the situation, 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.”

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