Bimal Nandi is a worried man nowadays . If Tatas leave Bengal , he will face direct consequences . And not only him ; but thousands of people like him . Who are these people ? They aren’t big economists or ministers in Bengal government or intellectuals . They are common people and small traders of Singur .

Take Bimal Nandi . He trades in spices and supplies raw material to restaurants who eventually supplymeals to workers at the Tata plant. When the project commenced , the amount of business he was getting almost quadrupled . But nowadays , he is worried and anxious . “While fearing for the worst , we are hoping for the best” , he says ; but the anxiety on his face clearly shows the distress under which thousands like him at Singur find themselves now .

This is one of the parts of opportunity cost that will stare at Bengal should Tatas pull out . Basically , opportunity cost , in economic terms , is the cost of the opportunity missed or an alternative not chosen. Say , I choose A over B ; then the cost of not choosing B will be my opportunity cost . In case of a Tata pullout , it will be really huge for Bengal .

Lets see the logistics first . Some really naïve people are saying that if Tatas go , it’ll be the loss of just one factory or 1500 crores worth of investments . However , one should get this straight that this is absolutely wrong . To make things clear , lets just outline that what all industries are related or support any automobile factory . There are the ancillary units , to start . Tier II vendors and other investors , raw material suppliers etc all form one metamarket i.e. market comprising of one main unit and its supporting industries .

In case of the nano factory , there are several small and medium scale supporting industries that complete the puzzle . The ancillary and vendors units aside , there are brands such as Tata reality infrastructure , Tata metalinks and Maithon power limited which may take a flight . Bharat Forge , whose investment in Bengal was primarily because of Nano , is in dilemma . And so is Vedanta group , the non-ferrous metal giant . Then there are the steel companies . Tata steel , having hub at Jamshedpur , wasn’t sufficient to fulfill Nano needs . Hence , the stage was set for many medium sized stell companies like Abhijit group and Adhunik steel to venture into Singur . If Tatas go , everyone goes . And with that , thousands of jobs will .

Considering the cold facts in terms of investment , Bengal stands to lose almost Rs 80,000 crore if these companies don’t invest in event of a Tata pullout . Tatas , as a group , will take away about Rs 20000 crore . Bharat Forge wont invest Rs 7000 crore and so will Vedanta [ 16000 crorehere ] .The steel companies will shun the site and that’s another 10000 crore gone . And that’s just monetary . Thousands of potential jobs will be gone . Consider this : Tatas alone employed about 15000 workers for construction activity alone , either directly or indirectly . All the small businesses in and around Singur like restaurants or traders or labour contractors will face the worst : No business at all ! And those who talk about farmers being worst affected by tata factory , should study economics first . As the area develops and more people engage in productive activities , demand for basic services like food and houses increases . This will lead to a surge in minimum support price of crops . Only farmers can benefit from this . We are not talking about just one nano factory ; we are talking about the whole value chain of economy .

All the above losses , however , are tangible . What about the intangible ? What about Brand Bengal ? What happens when a brand gets hit by such controversies? Ratan Tata and his group aren’t ordinary . They generate immense goodwill . If they leave like this , will any other group invest in Bengal ? In marketing , brands matter the most . The coca cola brand , for example , is worth $55 billion ! Brand Bengal will get much more investments if Tatas stay .

Mamta Bannerji needs to rethink . Even her supporters are getting frustrated now. She tells Tata supporters to visit Singur and then speak . We ask , has she visited Joymolla ? Thousands of young men from the neighbourhood are employed at the Tata factory . They will have no work and no wages should they leave . This cold and hard fact probably drove 61-year old Sushen Sarkar to suicide . His three sons are employed at the nano factory . May be Mamta Banerjee should visit his house .

Bengal needs Tatas much more than Tatas need the land at Singur . The earlier WB government resolves this , the earlier Mamta Banerjee understands that her agitation will actually cost her votes , the better it’ll be for Bengal . And then , probably , the smiles will return to Singur .

Mayank Sharma

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