Mamata buckles under anti-land acquisition stir, cancels Sankarail project (Lead)

January 14th, 2011 - 1:13 am ICT by IANS  

Mamata Banerjee Singur/Borai (West Bengal), Jan 13 (IANS) In an irony of sorts, Railway Minister and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee Thursday announced shifting of a proposed railway coach factory from Sankrail in Howrah district following vehement anti-land acquisition protests.Announcing shifting of the project at a function in Borai of Hooghly district, Banerjee said: “I will not forcibly set up the coach factory at Sankrail, although only a few people are opposing the project. I will relocate the factory.”

She said the alternate site for the Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) coach project will be finalised in two or three days. “Within two to three days I will decide and inform where the factory will be relocated,” she said.

Villagers, allegedly backed by the Communist Party of India-Marxist, have been opposing the proposed Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) coach factory on 630 acres of farmland in Sankrail in Howrah district. The farmers have been demanding more compensation and jobs in the railways.

Earlier, addressing a rally in Singur, Banerjee asked the West Bengal government to hand over 600 acres out of the 997.11 acres of land acquired for the Tata’s small car project in the rural belt for relocating the Sankrail unit.

In 2008, Banerjee’s anti-land acquisition agitation had forced automobile giant Tata Motors to shift its proposed Nano car plant from Singur in West Bengal to Gujarat.

Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee during his Jan 9 visit to Singur had said: “Come what may, we will set up industry in Singur if the people so wish. We are trying hard to set up the industry there as soon as possible.” It was his first visit to Singur over two years after Tata Motors announced Oct 3, 2008, that the world’s cheapest car would not roll out from there.

The automobile giant had to abandon their plans to bring out the car from the plant after two years of a sustained and often violent peasant agitation spearheaded by the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress. The agitators had demanded return of 400 acres out of the 997.11 acres acquired for the project to farmers from whom land was allegedly taken against their will.

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