Panel holds second round of talks on Singur dispute

September 11th, 2008 - 8:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Sep 11 (IANS) The four-member team formed to study the contentious land acquisition for Tata Motors’ Nano project in West Bengal held its second round of deliberations Thursday, with one of the farmers’ representatives saying the talks were “cordial”.The team visited the plant site in Singur, about 40 km from here, Wednesday to asses the vacant plots lying unused in the project area.

“During our visit we have got an idea about the vacant plots. We exchanged our views with representatives of the state government,” said committee member and Singur legislator Rabindranath Bhattacharya of the Trinamool Congress.

Farmer leader Becharam Manna, West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) managing director Subrata Gupta and Nilam Meena, district magistrate of Hooghly, under which Singur comes, are other members of the panel.

The panel was formed Sunday and asked to give a report within a week.

Bhattacharya said he and Manna had made a presentation to the government members of the committee on the available plots within the project area.

He said the government had so far not given any assurance on returning 300 acres for farmers, but hoped a solution would be found on the dispute.

He was confident the committee would be able to give its report in seven days, but said if need be it could sit for some more days to settle the matter. “But so far there has not been any decision on seeking extra time.”

The talks would continue Friday.

A total of 997.11 acres was acquired for the Nano project, of which the state government says 691.66 acres belonged to farmers who gave their land willingly.

The Trinamool Congress-backed farmers’ group Krishijami Jiban Jibika Raksha Committee (KJJRC) had opposed the takeover of farmland and demanded return of 400 acres of land which they alleged was forcibly taken from “unwilling farmers” to build ancillary industries adjacent to Tata Motors’ mother unit.

Their agitation put a question mark on the future of the project and Tata Motors last week stopped work at the site. However, Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi mediated talks between Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Trinamool leader Mamata Banerjee that led to a compromise pact which included setting up the committee.

Two years ago, Tata Motors started setting up the unit to produce the world’s cheapest car Nano, priced at Rs.100,000 ($2,500).

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