As Nano rolls out, blanket of grief engulfs Singur

March 23rd, 2009 - 11:05 pm ICT by IANS  

Singur, March 23 (IANS) A blanket of grief enveloped this rural hamlet as global auto major Tata Motors rolled out world’s cheapest car Nano from its stable Monday in Mumbai. A section of locals chose not to see the live telecast of the Nano launch.
“Eighty percent work was done in the Singur factory. There is no point in putting a full stop to this work in this way,” a dejected Dibakar Das, a farmer who gave five acres for the Nano project in Hooghly district, told IANS.

Singur, 40 kilometres from the West Bengal capital Kolkata in the Hooghly district of the state, had turned into a battleground for about two and a half years since May 2006 after the state government announced the Tata Nano project.

On Oct 3 last year, Tata Motors announced that it had scrapped its plans to bring out the world’s cheapest car, priced at Rs.100,000 from the facility at Singur. The plant was later shifted to Sanand in Gujarat.

The Trinamool-led protestors demanded return of 400 acres of the acquired 997.11 acres to the unwilling farmers. But the Tatas were against any relocation of ancillaries in the integrated project.

Tata Motors did not want to relocate the auto-component companies to other place because that would have increased the production cost of the car.

Expressing his sadness, Das said: “The project could have changed the financial condition of Singur, but the destructive protests by the opposition did not allow the project to take place.”

Land prices, which had skyrocketed after the Tatas started constructing the factory, have nosedived, inconveniencing many of those who had purchased extra acres for a quick buck.

Some of the inhabitants had even converted part of their houses to lodges accommodating Tata Motors employees, but with the company moving out their business has hit a trough.

Many locals of Singur refrained from watching the Nano launch on television as they felt sad. “This was our project. But unfortunately it did not happen over here, it is difficult to digest the fact,” said Laxmi Devi, a villager.

“Many shops were established to cater to the needs of the people of the factory when the work was on. Now they have wound up everything. This place could have been as vibrant but now it bears a desolate look,” Balai Sabui, a Communist Party of India-Marxist leader in Singur, told IANS.

He rued the fact that the project had the potential to generate so much of employment for the local youth, but all their hopes are doomed now.

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