Trinamool continues Singur protests, alleges provocation by CPI-M

September 3rd, 2008 - 5:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Sep 3 (IANS) The opposition Trinamool Congress Wednesday stuck to its stand of protesting at the Nano plant in Singur till 400 acres of land are returned to farmers, notwithstanding automobile giant Tata Motors’ pull-out threat from West Bengal. “Whether they’ll shift their product to other facilities or not is an internal matter of the Tatas. We don’t want to comment on that. We strongly want the 400 acres to be given back to those who have lost land and for that our movement will continue,” senior Trinamool leader Madan Mitra told IANS.

Mitra also alleged that supporters of the state’s ruling Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) were trying to provoke Trinamool workers.

“The situation in Singur is aggravating. CPI-M cadres are pelting stones at our activists. Some of our supporters have also been injured,” Mitra claimed.

Trinamool chief Mamata Banerjee had struck the same note Tuesday, saying: “Whatever the Tatas have said is only the company’s internal matter, and a technical matter. I don’t want to comment on that. We want the Tatas to remain here.

“There is one simple solution. Let the government give back the 400 acres it had forcibly taken from unwilling farmers, and all will be ok,” she said.

Mitra urged the government to come out with a specific proposal about the land dispute in Singur over land acquisition for the Nano plant.

“It’s very good that West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi took the initiative to play the role of a mediator. All the time, he has been very helpful to sort out any problem in the state,” said Mitra.

The Tata Motors officials issued a press statement Tuesday evening, saying it had been “constrained to suspend the construction and commissioning work at the Nano plant in Singur in view of continued confrontation and agitation at the site.

“In view of the current situation, the company is evaluating alternate options for manufacturing the Nano car at other company facilities and a detailed plan to relocate the plant and machinery to an alternate site is under preparation”, the statement said.

The Trinamool Congress-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 Aug 24.

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.

Meanwhile, the business fraternity in India has also reacted strongly to the latest turn of events in Singur and urged political parties to set aside short term political gains in favour of the nation’s development.

A statement issued by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) said suspension of work by Tata Motors at Singur would be a major setback to India’s industrialisation initiatives.

“The suspension of work at the Tata’s Nano plant is an unfortunate situation. It’s a blot on the country’s global image,” CII director general Chandrajeet Banerjee said.

“We are still hopeful that the situation would be resolved and short term political gains would be set aside in favour of overall development of the nation.”

Banerjee said the Tatas had been extremely patient given the hostile conditions at Singur. “We understand that the company has been forced to take this decision for the well being and safety of its employees,” he said.

Political analyst Sabyasachi Basu Roychowdhury, however, felt that unlike the Jindals, the Tatas had shown little concern for local farmers in the process of land acquisition.

While agreeing that the state would suffer a big setback if the Tatas roll back, Roychowdhury said: “Of course, the state government was dealing with the land issue in Singur, but the Tatas should also step into that process and negotiate with the locals directly, like the Jindals.”

“They left everything to the state government and because of the CPI-M-led Left Front government’s over-confident steps, the situation took a different shape,” he said.

A total of 997.11 acres was acquired for the Tata Motors small car project in Singur, of which 691.66 acres belonged to farmers who gave their land willingly.

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