Tata Motors thinks Singur situation still not congenial: Buddhadeb

September 17th, 2008 - 9:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Sep 17 (IANS) Tata Motors does not think the Singur situation is congenial to resuming operations at its Nano plant, the West Bengal government said Wednesday, even as it appealed to the auto major to restart work at the facility.Addressing reporters at the state secretariat here, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya betrayed his government’s anxiety for resumption of operations, and denied he had violated the agreement inked Sep 7 with the opposition in presence of Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi.

“We are anxiously waiting for them (Tata Motors) to come back. But they think the situation is still not congenial. They said they are monitoring the situation and would take a decision in the right time,” Bhattacharya said, adding he discussed the matter with the top management of the Tata Group including its chairman Ratan Tata Tuesday.

The company suspended work Sep 2 at the factory, which is slated to roll out the world’s least expensive car Nano, saying it feared the security of its workers and employees who were manhandled and threatened by protesters opposed to ‘forcible acquisition of farmland’ for the project.

“We have told the Tatas they can restart work as there has been a qualitative improvement in the situation,” the chief minister said.

Bhattacharya also appealed to the vendors of the projects to resume construction work as the seven-day period for them to stop work as per the Sep 7 agreement was over.

Appealing to the opposition to accept the latest compensation package announced by the government, he said work can be started “once a semblance of normality returns there”.

Asked how confident he was about the Tatas resuming operations, the chief minister replied: “I am still confident. If the opposition responds to my appeal for peace and accepts the package then the company will resume operations at the factory”.

Bhattacharya said he was still open to discussions on the package, and wanted to resolve the stalemate through discussions with opposition Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee. “I don’t want to use force. I want to reason with them. We are anxiously waiting for them (the Tatas) to come back. The company is also anxiously waiting.”

Bhattacharya underlined that time was an important factor. “We have already lost more than a month”

Denying opposition allegations that his government had violated the Sep 7 agreement, Bhattacharya said the pact had never talked about giving alternate 300 acres within the project area to farmers who had not taken the compensation cheques.

“This is baselss. The government and opposition never arrived at any such consensus. We said we could give 40 acres from inside the project area and 50 acres outside”.

“But later we found it was not possible to take land outside as more farmers would have been uprooted. We would have had to take more land to rehabilitate them, and thus fall into a vicious cycle”.

Bhattacharya said the opposition had failed to understand the integrated nature of the project, in which the mother plant and the vendors’ park were inseparable.

“This technology has been appreciated the world over,” he said.

Bhattacharya said the government formed the four-member committee on the land issue a day after the agreement was signed. “This shows our approach. We did not delay a minute”.

He also said he decided to step in Sep 12 when he found the committee was not making any progress as there was no consensus on any of the issues between the representatives of the government and the opposition.

The chief minister alleged that as there was no common ground, the opposition representatives had refused to sign the minutes of the committee meetings and declined to submit a joint report,

“It is then I called the Trinamool leader (Mamata Banerje) for talks and placed the compensation package before her. I also told her we can give a maximum of 70 acres within the project area. And I think once we started talking again, the committee lost its relevance.”

He also claimed that the opposition had never given any proposal on unregistered sharecroppers.

The chief minister also said that he did not see any more scope of the governor mediating any more discussions. “He has already done his job”.

“But I am always open for negotiations, if she (Banerjee) responds to my package”.

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