Bengal minister challenges Trinamool on land acquisition

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

KOLKATA - Throwing a challenge to the opposition Trinamool Congress, which has launched a fresh movement on the land acquisition issue in the north eastern fringes of the city, the West Bengal government Tuesday offered to return 11 per cent of the acquired land if Mamata Banerjee’s party allowed Tata Motors to establish their second small car unit at Singur.

The state government arm, Housing and Infrastructural Development Corporation (HIDCO) has acquired large tracts of land in the Rajarhat-Newtown area to set up a satellite township christened Jyoti Basu Nagar.

On Saturday, Banerjee led a rally in the area and threatened legal steps if 10 percent developed land was not returned to farmers.

“She has demanded that 10 per cent of the developed land in the township be returned to the farmers. Whatever be the odds, I will return 11 percent of the land there to the farmers. But Banerjee will have to agree to let the Tatas set up their factory in Singur if the state government returned 10 percent of the acquired land there to the farmers,” Housing Minister Gautam Deb told media persons here.

Deb said once Banerjee agreed to his proposal, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee will talk to the Tatas. Banerjee then should let Tata Motors start the second factory of Nano there.”Thus we can have a settlement in Singur”.

Tata Motors had abandoned plans to set up their small car Nano plant at Hooghly district’s Singur, about 40 kms from Kolkata, in Oct, 2008, after Banerjee’s Trinamool led an intense peasant agitation demanding return of 400 acres of the 997.11 acre acquired land to farmers from whom the land had been “forcibly” acquired.

After Singur and Nandigram, Rajarhat on the northeastern fringes of the city is turning into a new political flash point on land acquisition. Banerjee, who had spearheaded the land acquisition protests at Singur and Nandigram earlier, took out a large rally Saturday that traversed some areas of Rajarhat.

She alleged that to develop the area into an industrial town, the state government has forcibly taken away 25,000 acre agricultural land from the farmers, most of whom were religious minorities and backward classes.

“They were not paid any compensation for the land. Till now 200 farmers, whose land was forcibly taken away, have not received any payment,” she said.

Launching a scathing attack on Banerjee, Deb said “She has become a symbol of destruction. She has finished Singur. She has finished Nandigram. Now she is trying to finish Rajarjhat. But she should remember Rajarhat is not Singur. Singur will be her waterloo”.

Filed under: Economy

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