Singur siege continues, another car maker suspends production

August 27th, 2008 - 4:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Aug 27 (IANS) A traffic gridlock continued on a crucial national highway in West Bengal and another car manufacturer suspended production as the Tata Motors’ Nano project site in Singur remained besieged by the Trinamool Congress for the fourth day Wednesday.”We are trying to divert the traffic on NH-2 (National Highway 2). A team of district administration officials Tuesday requested Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee to withdraw the road blockade, at least from one flank of the Durgapur expressway,” Rajiv Mishra, Hooghly district police superintendent told IANS.

He said: “We’ll again try to request Trinamool Congress leaders to cooperate so that vehicular movement on the highway can resume.”

He said hundreds of long-distance trucks coming from other states were stuck due to the gridlock on Durgapur expressway.

The Truck Owners Association of Bengal Tuesday threatened to go on strike if the highway remained clogged due to the indefinite siege by the state’s principal opposition party Trinamool Congress.

Officials of Hindustan Motors in Hooghly district, the only automobile manufacturing unit in the state, hung a notice at the main gate Wednesday saying the factory will remain closed for the day due to lack of raw materials for the past few days.

According to Hindustan Motors’ workers, the company is incurring substantial loss due to the Trinamool Congress agitation in Singur, about 40 km from Kolkata. They said raw materials like tyres and glasses, which came respectively from Indore in Madhya Pradesh and Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh, could not reach the factory because of the blockade on NH-2.

The Trinamool-led Krishijami Jiban Jibika Raksha Committee (KJJRC), which opposed the takeover of farmland for the Tata project, had called for an indefinite protest at the Nano factory site from Sunday.

The protesters are demanding the return of 400 acres of land which they allege was forcibly taken from “unwilling farmers” to build ancillary industries adjacent to the Tata Motors’ main plant.

Expressing concern over the ongoing situation, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee has said the state government cannot give back 400 acres to the Singur farmers.

“Returning 400 acres means dropping the entire project. I cannot afford to roll back the project now. It is too important for the state,” he said Tuesday at an interaction with industry representatives here.

Remaining firm on her stand, Mamata Banerjee said: “Singur farmers want their own farmland back, instead of any alternative. The state government has already deceived them once by acquiring their land. Now we will not fall into its trap and stop our indefinite agitation till the demand is met.”

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

The four-seater Nano is to have a dealer price of Rs.100,000 ($2,500), about half the cost of the cheapest car in the market now.

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