No solution to Singur impasse in sight

September 21st, 2008 - 4:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Sep 21 (IANS) Nineteen days have passed since Tata Motors suspended work at its Nano plant at Singur in West Bengal but no solution to the deadlock seems in sight.Operations were suspended Sep 2 following an indefinite siege that was kicked off Aug 24 by the opposition Trinamool Congress party in front of the factory gate at Singur, about 40 kilometres from Kolkata.

Asked how long Tata Motors would wait for the stand-off to end, a company spokesperson told IANS Sunday: “I can’t comment on the subject. We’ve nothing more to add except to say our stand remains what it was when we spoke after the government’s compensation package was announced.”

In the statement welcoming the package for Singur farmers, the auto major had said: “Tata Motors appreciates and supports the recent initiatives of the government of West Bengal for the residents of Singur area where it had acquired land for Tata Motors Nano project.”

“Tata Motors hopes that these initiatives will evoke a positive response from the residents of Singur and that all stakeholders will contribute to create a congenial environment conducive to the long-term sustained operations of an industrial enterprise,” it said.

West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee met Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi at Raj Bhavan Saturday evening and discussed the compensation package for those whose land was acquired in Singur.

At the closed-door meeting that lasted 90 minutes, Bhattacharjee reportedly told Gandhi that the government was ready to open talks with the opposition on the package that provides for 70 acres within the project area for farmers.

The chief minister also informed Gandhi about what prompted him to call Trinamool supremo Mamata Banerjee for talks, for the second time, at the Kolkata Information Centre Sep 12.

Banerjee and leader of the opposition in the state assembly Partha Chattopadhyay also had separate dialogues with Gandhi at his residence Friday.

The Trinamool has alleged that cadres of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) were constantly pressurising many unwilling farmers at Singur to accept the compensation from the government.

“Two farmers were also beaten up by the CPI-M cadres at Arambag when they went to sell vegetables there. They were told to accept the cheques from the district administration,” Chattopadhyay said.

According to sources, efforts are also on to arrange another dialogue between the government and the opposition to settle the issue, since several other states and even Sri Lanka have offered land to Tata Motors for the Nano plant.

One strong contender is Karnataka, which has offered the auto major 1,000 acres in the Dharwad region. Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa met Tata Motors managing director Ravi Kant Sep 18, and assured him that there would be no Singur-like farmers’ protest in case the company decided to shift locations.

Tata Motors began constructing the Singur factory two years ago to launch Nano, the world’s least expensive car at Rs.100,000 (about $2,250).

But from the very outset, it faced stiff resistance from the opposition Trinamool Congress, which protested against the forcible farmland acquisition for the project.

A section of farmers, led by Trinamool, also demanded the return of 400 acres from the state government.

Altogether, 997.11 acres had been acquired for the small car unit.

In its bid to save the project, the state government had announced a better compensation package for farmers and agreed to return 70 acres from the Nano project area.

But this was ‘unacceptable’ to Banerjee, who is still glued to her demand for the return of 400 acres to Singur farmers.

Nano is scheduled to roll out next month, coinciding with the beginning of India’s festive season.

Related Stories

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Posted in Politics |