CPI-M, Trinamool reach out to Singur farmers

September 22nd, 2008 - 7:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Sep 22 (IANS) West Bengal’s ruling communists and the opposition are carrying out door-to-door campaigns in Singur to convince the farmers of their respective stands, as the state government’s deadline for paying an extra 10 percent to the “unwilling farmers” ended Monday. The cadres of the state’s ruling Left Front major Communist Part of India-Marxist (CPI-M) have spread out to the villages of the landlosers - Beraberi, Gopalnagar, and Singherbheri, among others - to impress upon the farmers who have not yet accepted compensation cheques the benefits of the fresh rehabilitation package announced by the government.

Activists of the Trinamool Congress-backed protesting farmers’ body Krishijami Jiban Jibika Raksha Committee (KJJRC) were also going in groups to the villages and asking farmers not to pay heed to the package and instead strengthen the agitation demanding return of 400 acres to the farmers.

Meanwhile, the political deadlock continued, with Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee - the spearhead of the agitation against the alleged forcible acquisition of farmland for Tata Motors’ Nano car project - turning down Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s appeal to withdraw the protests, as the suspension of work at the factory entered the 20th day Monday.

While Bhattacharjee feared the company could move out of the state if the impasse was not resolved immediately, Banerjee set a seven-day deadline to the state government to implement the agreement signed on Sep 7 in presence of Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi.

“If they do not operationalise the agreement, we will be forced to resume our agitation, which we have only suspended. They must do it in seven days. How can they go back on what was agreed in presence of the governor? This is violative of the constitution,” she said.

Banerjee also demanded that the central government should take recourse to Article 355 of the constitution to seek explanation from the state on why it went back on the agreement. “If necessary, the central government should invoke Article 356 to dismiss it (the state government),” she said.

She also announced she would hold a rally in Singur Thursday, and walk in a procession in the city the next day.

On Friday, the KJJRC will lay a siege at the Block Development Office at Singur, Banerjee announced, while yet again rejecting the compensation package announced by the state government.

The KJJRC will meet the governor Tuesday, and also go to New Delhi to call on President Pratibha Patil and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The state government had advertised the six-point rehabilitation package Sep 14, which offered 70 acres from within the project area for families affected by the project.

The package also provides additional cash compensation of 50 percent of the price originally offered for the land acquired.

Farmers, who had not accepted the compensation cheques for their land, were promised an additional 10 percent if they claimed the land price by Monday.

In the case of absentee landlords, the compensation has been offered to the sharecroppers registered for that particular plot, while unregistered sharecroppers and agricultural labourers get wages for 300 days.

The government also committed to arrange training and “endeavour to provide direct or indirect employment for one person per project-affected family having no regular employment or income”.

Tata Motors began constructing the Singur factory two years ago to launch Nano, the world’s cheapest car at Rs.100,000 ($2,500). The company has invested Rs.15 billion in the project so far, company officials said.

The project has seen intense protests since work started in 2006, and Tata Motors suspended work Sep 2 after the agitators laid siege on the factory from Aug 24.

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