Mamata to meet governor over Singur row Friday

September 18th, 2008 - 9:42 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Sep 18 (IANS) Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee said she would meet West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi Friday to apprise him of the latest situation on the Tata Nano issue following the state government’s refusal to give 400 acres to rehabilitate affected farmers. Banerjee, who is spearheading protests against the ‘forcible’ acquisition of farmland for the Tata Motors’ Singur project in Hooghly district, had Wednesday signalled a renewal of her agitation with the demand that the government return the 400 acres to farmers who have not taken compensation cheques.

In Singur, 17 farmers - who had earlier refused to accept the cheques - have veered around to taking the enhanced compensation package announced the government last week, according to the Hooghly district magistrate (DM) office. There are around 2,000 farmers who did not take the compensation cheques earlier.

“Altogether 17 farmers have registered for availing the new rehabilitation package with the Singur BDO (block development officer),” an official at the DM’s office said.

The farmers from Beraberi, Khaeserbheri and Gopalnagar villages own altogether nine acres.

The state government has fixed a deadline of Sep 22 for giving a further 10 percent to farmers who have not yet accepted their compensation cheques on the prices at which land was acquired from them for the project.

The government has also assured jobs to one member of each family without any other source of income. The unregistered sharecroppers and agricultural labourers would get 300 days’ wages at one go.

Meanwhile, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Prakash Karat said here that the state government was making every effort to ensure that the Nano rolled out from Singur.

Karat was in the city to visit ailing senior party leader and former state chief minister Jyoti Basu.

On the other hand, steelmakers Jai Balaji group chairman and managing director Aditya Jajodia reiterated that the Singur happenings did not reflect the state of affairs in West Bengal.

“Singur is not indicative of the general state of affairs in the state. We are home grown industries and we have faced no such problems till date,” said Jajodia, whose company has plans to start work on a five million tonne steel plant at Raghunathpur in Purulia district.

On Wednesday, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee appealed to Tata Motors to restart work at the project.

Ruling out the opposition’s demand for 400 acres, including 300 acres within the project area, Bhattacharjee said the integrated nature of the project could not be disturbed and the ancillary units had to be given space within it.

The government has offered 70 acres from within the project area, saying “it is the maximum we can give”.

Soon after Bhattacharjee’s media meet, Banerjee said the Trinamool would take a decision on resuming its protests after she meets Gandhi.

She also took strong exception to the chief minister’s comments that he saw no scope of the governor mediating in any more discussions.

“How can he say this about the state’s constitutional head? This is very insulting to the governor,” Banerjee said.

The Trinamool chief laid siege on the factory Aug 24, forcing the company to suspend work since Sep 2. The government and the opposition then thrashed out an agreement and formed a four-member committee to look into available surplus land for rehabilitating farmers who had not taken their cheques.

Later, the government came out with the compensation package, which the opposition has rejected.

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