No work at Singur till clarity on deal: Tatas (Third Lead)

September 8th, 2008 - 8:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Sep 8 (IANS) Tata Motors Monday said it would continue to suspend work on producing little Nano at the Singur car factory as it was unsure of the project’s viability and “distressed at the limited clarity” in the deal struck with protesters over the land acquired for the project.”Tata Motors Limited is distressed at the limited clarity on the outcome of the discussions between the state government of West Bengal and the representatives of the agitators in Singur,” the company said in a statement.

“In view of the same, Tata Motors is obliged to continue with the suspension of construction and commissioning work at the Nano plant,” said the statement a day after the state government’s pact with Trinamool Congress that has led the agitation so far.

“We will review our stated position only if we are satisfied that the viability of the project is not being impinged,” the company said, adding it also wanted the proximity of ancillary units near the factory to be maintained.

None of the 800-odd staff at the Tata Motors factory or its contractors entered the site, 40 km from here, despite the two sides claiming success at the talks mediated by West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi.

The Trinamool Congress called off the agitation immediately after the deal with the state government. This led to the resumption of traffic on Durgapur Expressway, close to the Tata Motors factory, even as the the authorities started removing the makeshift podiums from where the farmers were being addressed.

A section of the farmers, who owned some 400 acres out of 997.11 acres acquired for the project and ancillary units, was protesting since Aug 24, asking the government to return the lands, which, they lamented, were forcibly acquired.

They were making their demands for the past two years but subsequently lay total siege at the factory from where the Tatas propose to bring out the world’s cheapest car Nano, priced at Rs.100,000/$2,500.

Concerned over the security of its 800-odd employees, including engineers from Singapore and South Korea, the industrial house, the largest in India with $62.5 billion turnover, suspended work completely since Sep 2.

An accord was reached between the state government and the opposition parties late on Sunday after a series of meetings mediated by the governor, who is the grandson of Mahatma Gandhi. But the Tatas felt it several questions unanswered.

Senior Tata officials said privately that they were also surprised at not being invited for consultations when the agreement was being thrashed out between the Communists-led government and the Trinamool Congress-backed protesters.

“It is not clear what this agreement actually means. Does it ensure continued viability of the Nano project?” queried Tarun Das, the chief mentor of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII).

“Does it assure sustained peace to enable uninterrupted work in the long term? It would be helpful to get clarification on these issues,” he added.

As per the agreement, as conveyed to the media by the West Bengal governor, the state government will form a committee to look into the demands of the affected farmers, and submit its report in seven days.

Till then, construction of the ancillary units on the disputed land will be on hold, Gandhi, flanked by Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee, told reporters after the agreement was struck Sunday night.

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