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How the 'Good-M' brought the Nano project to Gujarat
Maulik Pathak & Ashish Amin in New Delhi
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October 10, 2008 10:36 IST
Last Updated: October 10, 2008 11:00 IST

By Monday evening, the buzz in Ahmedabad was unmistakable.

Though most people expected Tata Motors [Get Quote] to select either Andhra Pradesh or Karnataka for its Nano project, it was clear that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi had done the impossible and coming from nowhere bagged the prestigious project.

The next day, a beaming Modi along with Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata announced at Gandhinagar that the Rs 1-lakh people's car will be made at Sanand, not far from the state capital. The day also marked Modi completing seven years in office.

Much before things took an unexpected turn at Singur in West Bengal, Modi had first suggested Ratan Tata during the Vibrant Gujarat Summit in January 2007 to move out of Singur and shift to Gujarat.

"We will give you everything you require here," he had told Tata in the presence of a top Tata Chemicals [Get Quote] executive and some senior government officials. It was at this event that Tata had said: "You are stupid if you are not in Gujarat."

After the first round of talks with Mamta Banerjee failed and Tata threatened to pull out of Singur, Modi was the first chief minister to roll out a red carpet for the Nano project.

A few days before moving out of Singur, top Tata Motors officials had called up the powers that be at Gandhinagar to inquire about a possible re-location to Gujarat.

Only too aware that several other states like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttarakhand and Maharashtra were going all out to bag the project, Modi set the Gujarat state machinery to work at full throttle.

His trusted officials, including Chief Secretary Rajgopalan, Industries Secretary Gauri Kumar and Principal Secretary K Kailashnathan led from the front.

Meanwhile, some leading industrial houses came out in support of Tata.

Four locations including Sanand, Naliya, Mundra and Savli were shortlisted by the state for the Nano project. A team from Tata Motors visited the sites and prepared a detailed report.

On the other hand, senior officials visited Tata Motors headquarters at least four times.

On September 20, Tata Motors Managing Director Ravi Kant met Modi at his residence and discussed at length the pros and cons of relocating the project to Gujarat and the incentives that the state could provide.

Sanand, which is about 20 km from Ahmedabad, emerged as the most favourable location for Tata Motors. Incidentally, it falls on the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor and will fetch more sops compared to other locations.

On October 3, the state government acquired 1,100 acres of land from the Anand Agriculture University's Northcote Cattle Farm. Tata said that they made the decision to re-locate to Sanand a night before signing the agreement. "It's homecoming for us," he said.

"Aapde ahiya na chiye ane aapde ahiya paachaa aavya (We belong here and so we have come back here)," Tata further said.

He could have been referring to the fact that Jamsetji Tata had donated Rs 1,000 here to establish the cattle farm when the state suffered a severe drought about 100 years ago.

"Many countries in the world had come forward and welcomed Tata to set up the Nano project. It would have been really unfortunate if Nano had gone out of India," Modi said after the relocation was made public.

Now that the Nano project has come to Sanand, the chief minister is now looking at making Gujarat the automobile hub of the country.

A host of Japanese automobile and ancillary companies are already considering substantial investments in the state.

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