Karnataka rolls out the Red Carpet for the Nano

Tata Motors and the Karnataka government made the opening moves in a gambit that could result in the beleaguered automaker moving its factory making the world’s cheapest car from West Bengal to the southern state.While chief minister BS Yeddyurappa promised the government’s full backing, Tata Motors managing director Ravi Kant said the company is looking for alternatives to the Singur site where work on Nano has stalled due to protests over land acquisition.Dharwad — an initial contender for the Nano factory before it lost out to Singur — in the northern part of the state is seen as the most likely location for the project. Already, two Tata group companies — construction equipment making unit Tata Telcon and the Tata-Marco Polo bus-making joint venture — have facilities there.“Karnataka has offered 1,000 acres of land and all incentives for setting up the Nano plant in the state,” Tata Motors said in a statement. Tata Motors suspended the work in Singur on September 2 citing concerns about the safety of its employees. Agitators, backed by the Trinamool Congress, have been demanding the company return about 400 acres to farmers out of the 1,000 acres allotted for the project. The agitators say that land was acquired forcibly from the farmers and that adequate compensation was not paid.The Tatas say returning the land would make the project unviable and talks between the West Bengal government and the Trinamool Congress have not yielded a breakthrough.Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh have also said they are interested in hosting the Nano factory.Despite the promise by the Karnataka government, the collapse of a high-profile airport project in Bangalore a decade ago may make the Tatas wary. After being bogged down by years of delay, a consortium led by Tata Industries in 1998 pulled out of a venture to build an international airport in the technology capital.

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