Talks begin over Tata’s Singur plant

September 5th, 2008 - 12:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Sep 5 (IANS) With Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi playing the peacemaker, the West Bengal government and the opposition Trinamool Congress began formal talks Friday to resolve the standoff over Tata Motors’ factory in Singur that is scheduled to build the world’s cheapest car Nano.The ruling Left Front is led by Industries Minister Nirupam Sen at the talks, while leader of the opposition in the state assembly Partha Chattopadhyay is heading the Trinamool Congress delegation.

Governor Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, Thursday met representatives of farmers who are protesting the acquisition of some 400 acres of farmland for the project by the state government.

Trinamool Congress-backed farmers have been holding protests since Aug 24 at the company’s factory at Singur, wanting 400 acres of land - of the 997.11 acres acquired for the project - to be returned. The 400 acres are meant for ancillary industries.

As the protests intensified, the Tata group last week suspended work at the site, which employs some 800 people, including engineers from South Korea and Singapore, saying it will not put its employees at risk. It also threatened to relocate the project to some other state if the protests continued.

On Wednesday, a farmer who had sold his land willingly to the Tatas for the Nano project committed suicide after the company announced it was suspending work. His three sons were employed in the company as guards and they stood to lose their jobs. The suicide has come as a jolt to the Trinamool Congress-led movement and many have started coming out in the open to support the project that aims to build the Nano, whose dealer price will be Rs.100,000 (less than $2,500).

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