Stir not to hit Nano rollout: West Bengal chief minister (Roundup)

August 23rd, 2008 - 11:15 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Aug 23 (IANS) The world’s cheapest car Nano will roll out of West Bengal’s Singur plant this October as scheduled, Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee assured Saturday, despite the threat by the opposition Trinamool Congress to lay siege to the plant site from Sunday.The issue is back in focus after Ratan Tata, chairman of the group making Nano, said Friday he would would pull the plant out of West Bengal if the violent agitation continued and the safety of employees could not be assured.

Trinamool leader Mamata Bannerjee confirmed Saturday that her party would go ahead with its indefinite siege of the project site from Sunday if 400 acres of land out of a total of 997.11 acres allotted for the project was not returned to their original owners.

“We are going ahead with our indefinite agitation and we are strengthening it further,” party leader Partho Chattopadhyay told IANS Saturday. He is also the leader of the opposition in the state assembly.

The chief minister, however, said: “We are open to talks with the opposition parties to find out a solution, but it is not possible to return the 400 acres meant for setting up ancillary plants.”

The government has thought about new compensation packages which it wants to discuss with the opposition parties, he told a press meet Saturday.

“It is the moral duty of the government to see that all those who have given land for the project are benefited from it,” Bhattacharjee said.

He also ruled out the possibility of the prestigious project shifting to some other state.

Following Ratan Tata’s pullout threat Friday, many states such as Maharashtra, Orissa and Punjab had offered Saturday to roll out the red carpet if the Tatas wanted to shift their project out of West Bengal.

But Bhattacharjee said: “There is no question of the Tata Group going away from the state. This project will happen here successfully.”

The Tatas say they cannot afford vendors to be far from the main factory as this will increase transportation and inventory costs and make it very difficult for them to keep the Nano priced at Rs.100,000.

“The ancillary industries are very important for the project as well as for the state, because in the future it will invite many more investments in the state,” the chief minister said, adding that it is the ‘young generation’ who especially wants this project to materialise.

Speaking about the agitation to be launched Sunday, he said: “I am hopeful that the agitation will be peaceful.”

He tried to assure people by saying there would not be any untoward situation created by the government to trigger violence Sunday in Singur.

“We want a peaceful agitation but if something goes out of gear it’s the state government’s responsibility. If they indulge in any violence we have the right to protect ourselves too,” Trinamool leader Chattopadhyay said.

Chattopadhyay’s party has organised the farmers at Singur under the banner of Krishijami Jiban Jibika Raksha Committee (KJJRC). The KJJRC convenor Becharam Manna told IANS: “We are making 21 camps around the factory site for this indefinite agitation.”

“Other national political party leaders and activists such as Amar Singh from Samajwadi Party, social activists Medha Patkar and Kuldip Nayar are also joining us,” Manna said.

Security arrangements have been tightened in and around Singur ahead of the agitation.

“Adequate security measures have been taken for the agitation starting tomorrow. Few policemen will travel tonight and the rest tomorrow morning,” inspector general of police (law and order) Raj Kanojia told IANS.

All India Forward Bloc state secretary Ashok Ghosh and state Bharatiya Janata Party president Satyabrata Mukherjee said Saturday that they too were in favour of an amicable solution to the land impasse. While the Forward Bloc is part of the ruling coalition, Mukherjee’s party is in the opposition.

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