Bengal government now looking at people’s support on Singur

September 14th, 2008 - 6:01 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Sep 14 (IANS) The West Bengal government Sunday splashed advertisements in local dailies to earn public favour for the latest compensation package for Singur farmers whose land has been acquired for the Nano small car project.The package was being provided “in the interest of restoration of normalcy for implementation of the project,” said the advertisement, which appeared on the front pages of some dailies, while several displayed it prominently in the inside pages.

The advertisement, headlined ‘Offer of rehabilitation package for project affected persons in Singur’, listed the six concessions placed by chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee Friday before Mamata Banerjee, chief of the opposition Trinamool Congress party that is spearheading the protest against the acquisition of land for the project.

Banerjee has termed the offer unacceptable, accusing the government of going back on the agreement signed Sep 7 that called for providing maximum land from within the project area for farmers who had not accepted compensation for the land acquired from them.

Banerjee, still sticking to her demand for return of 400 acres which, she alleges, was forcibly acquired from ‘unwilling farmers’, rejected the government’s offer of 70 acres from within the project area for families affected by the project.

The package also provides for an additional compensation, amounting to 50 percent of the price originally offered for the land acquired, in cash.

In the case of absentee landlords, the compensation has been 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.

“All those who have not received the compensation money shall be entitled to get a sum equivalent to 10 percent of the award in their respective names if they receive the compensation awarded within September 22,” the advertisement said.

The government also 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”.

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

Tata Motors started setting up the unit in Singur, 40 km from here, two years ago to produce the world’s cheapest car Nano, priced at Rs.100,000 ($2,250). The company has invested Rs.15 billion in the project so far, company officials say.

However, the auto major was forced to suspend work at the factory from Sep 2, after a few workers and officials were manhandled and threatened by the Trinamool Congress-led protesting farmers’ organisation which had laid a siege to the plant since Aug 24.

The siege was withdrawn Sep 7 after the agreement.

The two warring parties - the state’s ruling Left coalition and the Trinamool-led farmers - went on the warpath again Saturday.

While the Front announced it was going to launch a march to Singur Monday to build up public support for the project, Banerjee announced a counter-march to the area the next day.

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