No end in sight for Singur stalemate (Roundup)August 31st, 2008 - 10:56 pm ICT by IANS
Singur/Kolkata, Aug 31 (IANS) The protests in Singur crippling work at auto major Tata Motors’ Nano plant continued Sunday, as agitation leader Mamata Banerjee turned down an appeal from West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi for a mediator to resolve the stalemate.”We are at Singur,” Tata Motors said amid speculation that the company was considering pulling out of the West bengal site for manufacturing world’s cheapest nano car priced at Rs.100,000 (about $2,500).
“We are giving updates everyday. We will give an update Monday after seeing the situation,” a Tata Motors spokesperson told IANS.
The factory lost two mandays Friday and Saturday when work came to a stop due to the protests. Sunday was a holiday at the site.
A delegation led by the agitating Trinamool Congress met Governor Gandhi who earlier sent a missive to Banerjee to come to the discussion table.
A concerned Gandhi sent a second letter to Banerjee after the meeting.
“The governor has sent me a letter and requested me to read it out to all who are present at the agiatation dais. He has suggested that a mediator be selected between the government and us to sort out the Singur issue,” Banerjee said at Singur, 40 km from Kolkata.
“I thank him for his concern. But the increasing mass support we are getting proves we don’t need mediators,” she said.
A senior leader of West Bengal’s ruling Left Front said efforts were on to call an all-party meeting Tuesday to seek a way out.
“The Left Front is planning to call an all-party meeting Tuesday to discuss the Singur issue,” Front partner Revolutionary Socialist Party leader Kshiti Goswami told reporters.
External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee came out in support of Tata Motors.
“The Singur issue has become a serious problem for everyone. But if Nano rolls out from the Tata Motors factory at Singur it will be highly beneficial for West Bengal,” he said.
“The central government does not want to comment or interfere in the state’s matter. The state government and the Tatas will have to sort out the problems themselves. All we can say is that let there be industrialisation, at the same time increase food production,” he added.
Infosys Technologies Ltd chairman and chief mentor N.R. Narayana Murthy, in a statement issued in Bangalore, said the Singur row would unleash fear among investors, both domestic and foreign.
What happened in Singur was unfortunate for West Bengal, India and all progressive Indians, Murhty said, adding: “Such agitations will be stumbling block in the excellent economic growth over the decade”.
Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee continued to criticise Mamata Banerjee.
“The Trinamool led agitation is baseless. When Banerjee has failed to understand the basic thing that ancillary industries and the mother plant must be together or else Nano cannot roll out from Singur, there is no point in showing any logic to her,” he said.
“Banerjee says the government has illegally acquired land at Singur. But it is she who has put up a dais by the National Highway 2, which is illegal, and clogged the entire road.”
A total of 997.11 acres were acquired for the Tata Motors Nano project, of which 691.66 acres were given away by farmers willingly for a financial package.
Tata Motors took up the project two years back. Since then there has been resistance from sections of the farmers and political parties over the farmland acquisition.
Japanese Consul General Fujio Samukawa expressed concern when he said the government and investors of Japan were watching the situation at Singur.
“The Japan government and Japanese investors are minutely watching the Singur issue. This is a very serious situation both for West Bengal and for foreign investors. The state government and the opposition parties must sit together and negotiate the matter as soon as possible,” Samukawa told reporters on the sidelines of a press conference in Kolkata.