About 350 acres in Singur plant unused: farmers’ leader

September 9th, 2008 - 5:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Singur (West Bengal), Sep 9 (IANS) About 350 acres of land inside the Tata Motors Nano project complex are lying unused, said a farmers’ leader, demanding that the land be returned to the “unwilling farmers” from whom it was acquired.”I’ve toured the entire 997.11 acre area of the plant. And I’ve seen about 350 acres lying unused so far. That land can be returned to the unwilling farmers,” Becharam Manna, a farmers’ leader, told IANS here Tuesday.

Manna is in the four-member committee set up by the state government Sunday to look into the availability of land inside and outside the project area for giving back to farmers from whom land had been acquired against their will.

Manna said he had entered the complex and surveyed it in detail, while three other local leaders - Singur lawmaker Rabindranath Bhattacharya, Singur district committee member Manik Das and Beraberi panchayat chief Dudh Kumar Dhara - surveyed it from outside the area fenced off for the Tata Motors plant and its ancillary units.

Bhattacharya is also in the committee set up by the state government. West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) managing director Subrata Gupta and Hooghly district magistrate Nilam Meena are the other members.

Manna said: “The committee is also considering the compensation package for the share croppers and agricultural labourers who worked in those plots. We’ll raise the issue during a meeting with the state government representatives.

“We’ll also discuss the package for the farmers who would be accommodated adjacent to the project site - outside the Tata Motors’ fenced-off area.”

Meanwhile, the villagers of Singur are unsure whether their land remained cultivable two and a half years after it was acquired by the state government for the plant that is scheduled to roll out the world’s cheapest car.

“If we get back our land will it remain fertile, as it was before? There’s a major confusion about the condition the land would be in when it is given back to the farmers,” said Ranjit Das, who once owned a small piece of land which is now inside the Nano factory premises.

The Trinamool Congress-led farmers body Krishijami Jiban Jibika Raksha Committee (KJJRC), which opposed the takeover of farmland for the Tata project, had called for an indefinite protest at the Nano factory site from Aug 24 and the siege outside the car plant was lifted Sunday night after an agreement between the state government and protesters.

The protesters demanded the return of 400 acres of land which they had alleged was forcibly taken from “unwilling farmers” to build ancillary industries adjacent to the Tata Motors’ mother unit.

Two years ago, Tata Motors started setting up the unit here for the world’s cheapest car Nano, priced at Rs.100,000 ($2,500).

A total of 997.11 acres was acquired for the project, of which the government claims 691.66 acres belonged to farmers who gave their land willingly.

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