Buddha requests opposition to accept Singur package (Lead)

September 14th, 2008 - 9:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Sep 14 (IANS) Appealing to the Trinamool Congress-led protesters to accept the latest compensation package announced by the West Bengal government, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee Sunday exuded confidence that the world’s least expensive car Nano would roll out from Singur.”I appeal to the opposition to accept the package. It takes care of the needs of all land losers. If we accept it today, the Tatas will resume operations tomorrow,” Bhattacharjee told a rally in Burdwan.

The chief minister said the project was needed in the interests of the state.

“We have to move forward with this factory plan for the betterment of the state and its people.. We will win. We are doing everything legally,” he said.

Stressing the need for dialogue to solve the vexed issue, the chief minister said: “We want to sort out the matter through discussions but we can’t set aside this project.”

He referred to the compensation package announced by the state government, and said no other state in India has ever offered better sops than the one finalised by his government.

Bhattacharjee said the state government was sincere in finding a peaceful solution to the problem. He added: “For the sake of the state I myself had gone to state governor (Gopalkrishna Gandhi) thrice to discuss the issue.”

However, West Bengal state Congress president and Information and Broadcasting minister Priya Ranjan Dasmunsi said here that it was the responsibility of the state government to ensure success of the agreement signed in the Raj Bhavan Sep 7.

“We have read that it was a honourable pact. If the government now takes the path of betrayal, it will suffer. They must safeguard the agreement,” Dasmunsi said.

But he warned that things were getting complicated on the issue.

The six-point package, advertised by the government in the dailies Sunday, sets aside 70 acres from within the project area for families affected by the project and provides for an additional cash compensation of 50 percent of the price originally offered for the land acquired.

In the case of absentee landlords, the compensation has been offered to the sharecroppers registered for that particular plot, while the unregistered sharecroppers and agricultural labourers get wages for 300 days.

“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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