Supreme Court refuses putting roadblock against Nano rollout

May 13th, 2008 - 7:57 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, May 13 (IANS) The Supreme Court Tuesday refused to put any roadblock before the world’s cheapest car Nano’s planned rollout by the year-end though it issued notices to its producer Tata Motors and the West Bengal government following a petition challenging land acquisition. A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice M.K. Sharma said it will not order any status quo on the issue of land acquisition for the car’s plant in Singur in West Bengal.

The lawsuit filed by affected farmers has challenged the January 2008 order of the Calcutta High Court upholding the legality of the government’s decision to acquire 997.11 acres of land at Singur for the project.

The bench issued the notice despite protests by West Bengal counsel K.K. Venugopal, who said: “The land has already been acquired, the possession handed over and the compensation paid.”

The project has “reached financial closure”, said Venugopal, pleading to the court not to issue notice on the petition by five Singur farmers, including Kedar Nath Yadav, challenging the high court’s ruling.

The bench issued notices after counsel for Yadav, K. Bandopadhyay, pointed out to the court that part of the Singur farmers’ land acquired by the state was still with West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation.

Bandopadhyay also contended that the Land Acquisition Act empowered the government only to acquire land in public interest and not for business houses.

The petition said: “West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya has made a drastic decision to acquire thousands of acres of agricultural lands in various parts of the states for various industrial projects, including those for Tata Motors’ small car project in Singur and for the Salem group’s project in Haldia.”

The petitioner said the state government has also acquired land for Reliance Group of companies and other business houses, ignoring the fact the land being acquired by them mostly happens to be agricultural and fertile land.

The petitioner contended that the state government has launched a spree of acquiring fertile land for various business houses without making any master plan and without having examined the issue of land acquisition by government bodies as to exactly how much land is needed for development of trade, commerce and industries in the state.

The petitioner contended that the land acquisition by the state government is in violation of the West Bengal Industrial Infra-Structure Development Corporation Act, 1974.

The petitioner sought the apex court’s intervention to protect and save the fertile agricultural lands of the farmers at Singur.

The opposition to land acquisition in Singur and elsewhere in West Bengal has seen violent protests since January 2007, claiming 35 lives.

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