Invest In States: West Bengal


Investment Opportunities
West Bengal has been recognised as one of the important investment destinations in the country. It has major locational advantages with ports at Kolkata and Haldia, efficient network of railways, roadways and airways; stable power situation; as well as improved telecommunication system. It also has a very large number of skilled and qualified technical persons at different levels. Due to favourable agro-climatic conditions of the State, innumerable opportunities exists in the areas of agriculture, horticulture, sericulture, tissue culture and floriculture. The major industrial units in the State include tea, petrochemicals, electronics, leather, information technology, automobiles, etc. In addition, magnificent landscapes makes the State a tourist hotspot.

Agriculture plays a pivotal role in the State's economy and nearly three out of every four persons are involved in it. West Bengal is richly endowed with fertile soil, abundant water and favourable agro-climatic conditions. West Bengal is the largest rice producing State in the country, producing over 16% of rice. The other major agricultural commodities are wheat, pulses, oilseeds, potato, jute, pineapple, bananas, etc. With such abundant availability of agro produce in the State, the agriculture and horticulture sector naturally becomes a focus of attention. Also, the State enjoys national leadership position in terms of its output. Apart from this, its estuarine area is suitable for cultivation of variety of aquacultural products like shrimps and tiger prawns.

Tea Industry
West Bengal is the second largest tea growing State in India. It contributes about 21 percent of the total production of tea in India. Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri are two northern districts of West Bengal, where most of the tea gardens are located. Darjeeling tea is the finest tea in the world. Tea industry plays an important role in the economy of West Bengal. It generates employment in several ways like in production, processing, distribution, packaging etc. Tea is also an important source of income through exports. Kolkata port is the biggest tea-handling port in India as well as Kolkata is the biggest tea auction market in India. Many new small tea gardens have been set-up in Coochbehar, North Dinajpur, etc.

Information Technology (IT)
West Bengal continues to be the major base for information technology (IT) and software companies. The IT industry in the State has achieved significant growth over the years. At present, total export earning of IT companies located in Software technology Park (STP) is Rs. 2000 crore. Presently, 180 IT and 55 ITes companies are operating in Kolkata providing employment to 35,000 professionals.

West Bengal is on a fast track IT highway and is poised to become one of the top three States in India by 2010 to contribute 15 to 20 per cent of the country's total IT revenue. In order to capture this significant share of the growth and to provide full support to the investor community, the State Government has crafted comprehensive policies for the development of information technology in the State. The thrust areas in information technology include software development, hardware manufacture, IT real estate, IT enabled services, IT-security etc.

The West Bengal Government is also encouraging proposals for setting up large complexes in the 'information technology' segments of the private sector, joint sector and public sector. Further, it is looking at developing Tier II cities like Haldia, Durgapur and Siliguri and also suburban areas around Kolkata as the next IT hubs.

Leather Industry
The leather industry has a very high potential for growth due to easy availability of raw materials like hides and skins. Availability of skilled manpower for such activities has been the strength of this area. West Bengal is one of the country's top State for export of finished leather goods. 70% of the country's leather goods are exported from West Bengal. Export oriented units will be benefited through the setting up of the integrated leather complex near Kolkata. Kolkata Leather Complex is being set up in Bantala, primarily to relocate the existing tanneries from Kolkata (Tiljala, Topsia and Tangra). The complex is spread over 1100 acres of land and is 15 minutes away from Park Circus connector of EM Bypass. The basic idea of relocating these tanneries is to save Kolkata from pollution. The leather complex will be an ideal place for leather processing and furnishing units.

West Bengal is endowed with destinations like Darjeeling with a magnificent view of the Himalayas, dense forests and wild life sanctuaries in the Dooars of North Bengal, sea beaches and Sunderbans of South Bengal, rolling rivers, monuments, temples and other places of heritage in Calcutta and the Mufussil districts of the State. In order to realize the full potential of such locations and places of tourists' interest from the heritage point of view as well as to develop the seaside resorts in coastal areas, the State Government has formulated a separate policy for development of tourism.

West Bengal has a well-developed network of railways, roadways, airports and seaports. It has latest and modern telecom network as well as reliable power supply system. In order to upgrade and fully develop such infrastructural facilities, the Government of West Bengal has undertaken several infrastructure projects. It is making all efforts to attract greater investments into the State economy.

The length of roads in the State is 91970 km, including 1,898 km of National Highways; 3533 km of State Highways; 12565 km of PWD roads; and 42,479 km of district roads. National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) is widening the entire stretch of National Highway, NH-2 falling within the State to four lanes. This highway, which connects Kolkata to New Delhi, is part of the national Golden Quadrangle. The 65 km Durgapur Expressway and 8 km Kona Expressway serves as cut-offs and provides easier access to Kolkata from NH-2.

The total length of railway route in the State is 4431.64 km. Howrah Asansol, Sealdah, Bandel, Bardhaman, Kharagpur and New Jalpaiguri are the main railway junctions.

West Bengal presently has two commercial airports, namely, Netaji Subhas International Airport at Dum Dum and Bagdogra Airport at Darjeeling. Through these two airports, the State is well-connected to most of the other States/cities within India and outside it.

The State of West Bengal has two modern seaports, namely, Kolkata and Haldia. They together handled 53.02 million tones of cargo in 2005-06, the second highest among major ports in India.

The total generation of power, produced by the State agencies, has been 17115 MU (in 2005-06). In order to maintain such surplus power, the State Government is not only significantly increasing the power generation capacity, but also implementing a number of schemes for improving the physical and extending the transmission and distribution network.

The State telecom industry offers vast potential for investment with the penetration of optic fiber cables and the expansion of broadband services all over the State. Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (VSNL) has its international gateway and earth station in and around Kolkata. Mobile cellular services and email services are also available from a host of operators.

March 2011

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