Buddhadeb asks Tata not to move out of Singur

September 26th, 2008 - 4:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Sep 26 (IANS) West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has written to Tata group chairman Ratan Tata promising full security for Tata Motors workers at the Nano plant in Singur and requesting the auto major to stay put in the state.”As per Friday’s state cabinet decision, the chief minister has written to Ratan Tata assuring full safety and security of Tata Motors workers at Singur. He has appealed to the company to restart work at the plant,” state industry minister Nirupam Sen told reporters here.

The state cabinet Friday decided that Bhattacharjee would make one final appeal to Tata Motors - which has already started moving out equipment from the Singur facility - not to leave West Bengal.

The auto major has suspended work in Singur since Sep 2 after some of its workers were threatened and manhandled by a section of farmers, led by opposition Trinamool Congress party, in protest against the acquisition of their land for the Nano project.

The company has signalled an imminent pullout by removing equipment and quietly asking vendors to be ready to relocate, while simultaneously exploring the possibility to shift base to states such as Karnataka and Maharashtra.

Sen, however, said the company has been told that majority of people in Singur and across the state want the Nano project.

“Out of 13,000 people whose land has been acquired, 11,000 have taken compensation with the expectation that the factory will improve the standard of life in Singur. Only a few have not taken compensation and are opposing the project

“We hope the company will consider this and view the situation with a positive mindset before taking a decision,” Sen said Friday after the state’s ruling Left Front major Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) secretariat deliberated on the matter.

Sen said the company wanted security for its workers, and the government had promised it would do whatever was needed in that regard.

“There are always some troublemakers in society. But their actions should not be construed as the people’s stand on an issue,” said Sen, who played a key role in bringing the Nano project to Singur.

The project to roll out the world’s least expensive car, priced at Rs.100,000 ($2,500), has faced tough times since its inception 28 months ago over land acquisition.

Asking for the return of 400 acres the government allegedly acquired forcibly from farmers, protesters laid siege to the factory from Aug 24, a move that prompted the company to suspend operations on the security issue.

Discussions with the opposition in the presence of Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi failed to resolve the stalemate. Finally, the chief minister announced a fresh compensation package that was rejected by the Trinamool Congress and the majority of farmers reluctant to part with their land.

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