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West Bengal loses hope on Tata Nano project - report

A farmer listens to a speech by the Trinamool Congress Chief Mamata Banerjee during a protest in front of the main entrance of the Tata small car plant in Singur, 50 km north of Kolkata, September 16, 2008. REUTERS/Jayanta Shaw

MUMBAI (Reuters) - West Bengal, where Tata Motors planned to build the ultra-cheap Nano car, has lost almost all hope of retaining the project, the Indian Express newspaper said on Friday, citing the state’s chief minister.

Tata Motors, India’s top vehicle maker, had suspended work in Singur earlier this month after violent protests by farmers unwilling to give up their land for the factory. It said it was looking at other locations.

Despite talks with the main opposition party backing the protesters, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has told the cabinet “hope for Singur is alomost lost”, the paper said.

“The situation in Singur has deteriorated to such a point that there is hardly any hope for the Nano rolling out from there,” he was quoted as saying on Thursday.

A Tata Motors spokesman declined comment on the report.

Local media, which have carried pictures of trucks carrying what they say are equipment from the Singur factory, have said Tata Motors has started shifting out of the factory, which was to have an initial capacity of 250,000 units.

Tata Motors had said it planned to launch the Nano, priced at just above 100,000 rupees ($2,165), around October.