Singur divided over Nano compensation package

September 15th, 2008 - 3:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Singur, Sep 15 (IANS) The rehabilitation package announced by the West Bengal government Sunday for farmers affected by the Nano small car project here has left the local people sharply polarised.People who had given their land for the Tata Motors’ small car factory willingly and accepted the compensation cheques offered by the state government earlier are all praise for the fresh package.

On the other hand, those who refused the cheques and joined Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee’s recent siege of the plant in protest against the land acquisition still demand their land be returned to them.

“I like the package offered by the state government, I think the problem can now be resolved,” said Joydeb Ghosh of Ghoshpara, whose four acres has been taken for the factory.

But then, there are others like Madan Ghosh, also of Ghoshpara, who believe the government’s action is a sham.

“The government had signed an agreement with our leaders in the presence of the governor (Gopalkrishna Gandhi). The pact provided that maximum land would be given to us from within the project area. Now the government is going back on that. This is wrong.”

Tata Motors started building the Nano factory here two years back.

Since then the auto major has encountered resistance from a Trinamool-led farmers organisation, which has been protesting against the ‘illegal’ acquisition of farmland.

These farmers are also demanding that 400 acres, ‘forcibly’ taken from farmers unwilling to part with their land, be returned.

Swarup Barui of Ghoshpara wants the government to implement the package which provides for 70 acres from inside the Nano project area for rehabilitation of families affected by the project, and an additional cash compensation - amounting to 50 percent of the price originally offered for the land acquired.

“We like the compensation package. The government should come and approach the affected farmers directly,” said Barui.

Barui, a self-confessed supporter of the state’s ruling Left Front major Communist Party of India-Marxist, had also accepted the cheque for his 25 acres that was acquired.

Krishna Ghosh, owing allegiance to the opposition Trinamool Congress and who had given his land willingly “hoping for better days”, wants the government to talk to the farmers directly.

He has handed over 22 acres.

“Let the government talk. They should try to reason with the unwilling farmers. If they accept, things will be easy,” he said.

However, farmers who say they don’t want to part with their holdings remain firm.

Said Bhuban Bagui of Ghoshpara: “We just want the government to give back our land.”

Adds neighbour Madan Ghosh: “I don’t trust this so-called package. A government which can go back on a deal signed before the governor… what is the guarantee that they will keep their promise on the package?”

The state government, which Sunday released advertisements to build public opinion on the compensation package, has announced that in case of absentee landlords, compensation would be offered to the sharecroppers registered for that particular plot.

The government also said it would provide wages for 300 days to unregistered sharecroppers and agricultural labourers.

To win over recalcitrant farmers, the package also provides for an additional 10 percent of the award if they take the compensation cheques by Sep 22.

The government has further announced it would arrange for training and “endeavour to provide a direct or indirect employment for one person per project-affected family having no regular employment or income”.

Additionally, community development schemes would also be taken up in the ‘project-affected’ villages.

A total 997.11 acres was taken for the entire project.

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