Buddhadeb hopeful of amicable solution of Singur row (Roundup)

August 22nd, 2008 - 10:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Aug 22 (IANS) West Bengal is looking for an amicable solution to the dragging row sparked by allegations that farmland has been forcibly taken for a Tata car project, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee said Friday.”All of us want a peaceful solution to the Singur land row. I hope the dialogue, which we have initiated, will continue in the coming days,” the chief minister said at the state secretariat Writers’ Buildings here.

Bhattacharya made the comments shortly after Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata warned of withdrawing the Nano car project out of West Bengal if the campaign against his company raged on.

At the annual general meeting of Tata Tea, Tata said: “It is for West Bengal to decide if we want to be an unwanted resident or a good corporate citizen of West Bengal.”

Tata Motors took up the project of constructing a small car factory in Singur two years ago. Since then it has faced unending resistance from the Trinamool Congress, which has accused the government and the company of taking away land belonging to farmers for the project.

The company is building the small car factory on a plot of 997.11 acre. Of this, the Trinamool wants the return of 400 acres, saying the farmers are not willing to part with their land.

State Industries Minister Nirupam Sen said he was “hopeful that some solution will come up” to the land row, but added that it was not possible for the government to give back the 400 acres.

Speaking at a press meet at the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Sen said the 400 acres were not situated in one pocket of the project area.

He said the land demanded back by unwilling farmers and supported by the Trinamool Congress was scattered across the project area.

He cited a Supreme Court ruling that land taken for building public projects cannot be returned. And if there was excess land, the government could go for public auction.

“I have received a letter from Tata Motors managing director Ravi Kant explaining that they need a total of 997.11 acre for the project at one place,” Sen added.

He said the opposition parties were conspiring against the ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M)-led Left Front government in West Bengal.

“It is nothing but aggressive politics and the opposition parties are terribly misleading the people,” he said, adding that people should decide if they want development and new employment opportunities or not.

Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee termed Ratan Tata’s warning to move out of Singur if violence persists as “blackmailing politics”.

“We don’t believe in blackmailing politics. The government may give in to this kind of statement, not us. Our main concern is the welfare of the villagers,” she said.

Banerjee added that the CPI-M-led Left Front government was responsible for the violence at Singur.

“The government is only concerned about millionaires like Ratan Tata. Buddadeb is least worried about providing protection to the villagers at Singur,” Banerjee told a press conference at her residence.

“We are neither opposed to industrialisation nor is our movement a personal one. Let there be the small car factory at Singur, but Tatas must return the 400 acres land forcibly occupied from farmers,” she said.

Talking on the political programme announced by the Trinamool Congress, Bhattacharjee said: “It’s a democratic right of every political party to stage protests against anything they want. But we would request them not to create any violence.”

He said the Trinamool Congress had promised to demonstrate peacefully in Singur from Aug 24.

“People in West Bengal want the Nano factory to come up in Singur, thus we also want to resolve the issue mutually,” he added.

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