West Bengal shelves Dankuni township project

June 4th, 2008 - 7:26 pm ICT by IANS  


Kolkata, June 4 (IANS) Following setbacks in the recent panchayat polls, West Bengal’s Left Front (LF) government has shelved a Rs.330 billion ($7.8 billion) mega township project of DLF group to escape further backlash on land acquisition related issues. The fate of the project now looks uncertain with the state government scrapping the procurement committee set up to negotiate with the land owners for acquiring land for the township that would be spread over 4,840 acres in Dankuni, 20 km from Kolkata.

Though a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed last year between DLF and the Kolkata Metropolitan Development Authority, the government has so far managed to acquire only 200 acres for the project, which would have evicted 600 families.

Urban Development Minister Ashok Bhattacharya said: “We will scrap the project if the local people are not keen on it. There is no point in spreading panic among local people.”

The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led LF suffered a major setback in the three-tier panchayat polls held last month, losing control of three zilla parishads - top level of the panchayat system - to the opposition.

Bhattacharya said Tuesday that from now onwards various development authorities needed to set up land procuring committees that would have representatives of local bodies before acquiring land.

“We will place the project proposal before the new committee and then they would take a decision. If they do not approve the project we will scrap it and explain to the people why the project had to be scrapped,” he added.

Opposition leader Mamata Banerjee said the majority of the local population was opposed to selling fertile land to industrialists.

DLF eastern region head Sudhir Sehgal said: “It is a public private partnership project and we have signed an agreement with the government. It is for them to decide how the land will be taken over.”

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