Bengal’s land take-over for Nano plant challenged

March 26th, 2008 - 9:47 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 26 (IANS) The acquisition of nearly 1,000 acres of land by Tata Motors in West Bengal’s Singur for its Nano car project - a move held “legal” by the Calcutta High Court - has been challenged in the Supreme Court. A division bench of the Calcuta High Court Jan 18 upheld the legality of the government decision to acquire 997.11 acres of land at Singur for the upcoming project of Tata Motors to produce the world’s cheapest small car, Nano.

The high court dismissed a bunch of petitions that challenged the acquisition of agricultural land for the project.

One of the petitioners, Kedar Nath Yadav, has now moved the Supreme Court against the high court verdict.

In a lawsuit filed through counsel Santi Ranjan Das, Kedar Nath Yadav has contended that the acquisition of the land was against the relevant provisions of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, and other rules.

The petition said: “West Bengal Chief Minister Budhadeb Bhattacharya has undertaken a drastic decision to acquire thousands of acres of agricultural lands in various parts of the state for various industrial projects, including those for Tata Motors’ small car project in Singur, and for Salem group in Haldia.”

Das alleged that the state government has also acquired land for Reliance Group and other business houses, and that most of these were agricultural and fertile lands.

The petitioner contended that the government launched a spree of acquiring fertile land for various business houses without making any master plan and without having examined the issue of land acquisition by government agencies like the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation.

He said the land acquisition by the state government was in violation of the West Bengal Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation Act, 1974.

The petitioner sought the apex court’s intervention to protect and save the fertile agricultural lands of the farmers at Singur.

“Most of such lands are valuable agricultural tracts and cultivated twice or thrice every year. But the acquisition of the lands by the authorities in the name of public purposes without any specific plan for the affected persons and without giving proper compensation to them will amount to violation of their rights guaranteed under constitution,” the petition said.

Tata Motor’s Nano is to be manufactured at the Singur factory and is expected to be rolled out in the market by October 2008.

Tata Motors’ chairman Ratan Tata had unveiled the 623 cc, four-door Nano at the Delhi Auto Show Jan 10 with the standard model to cost Rs.100,000 plus Value Added Tax (VAT) and transportation costs.

The petition is expected to come up for hearing at the apex court next week.

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