Trinamool siege of Tata factory enters second day (Lead)August 25th, 2008 - 8:31 pm ICT by IANS
Kolkata, Aug 25 (IANS) Hundreds gathered outside the Tata Motors Nano plant at Singur in West Bengal Monday as protests demanding the return of 400 acres of farmland acquired for the small car project entered the second day, with Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee refusing to compromise.A defiant Banerjee maintained that there would be no giving up on the demand for the return of the 400 acres of land which she insists was taken forcibly by the West Bengal government from unwilling farmers. She has refused to bend despite threats from the Tatas that they will be forced to move out of Singur, 40 km from Kolkata, if the protests continue.
The indefinite siege has caused a huge traffic jam on the national highway passing through Singur, hampering the entry of vehicles into the state. Hooghly District Superintendent of Police Rajiv Mishra told IANS that the entire Durgapur Expressway was clogged.
Sandipan Chakravorty, managing director of Tata Ryerson Ltd and deputy chairperson of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), warned that if the traffic jams continued, supplies to the Tata plant would be hit.
He added that global auto majors were watching the developments at Singur.
“Tata Ryerson is investing Rs.1 billion in the Singur project to supply components for Nano,” he said. Tata Ryerson is a 50:50 joint venture firm promoted by Tata Steel and Ryerson Tull in the US. It produces hot and cold-rolled coils, strips, plates, sheets, blanks and structurals.
Amid allegations that Trinamool activists were threatening Tata factory workers, the plant meant to produce the eagerly-expected Nano car reported about 80 percent attendance Monday.
“The Tata Group is still hopeful that Nano will roll out in October. I hope the attendance will be normal from Tuesday,” Chakraborty said in Kolkata.
The protests at Singur are being spearheaded by the Trinamool-led Krishijami Jiban Jibika Raksha Committee, which opposes the takeover of land from unwilling farmers for the Tata project.
The 400 acres in question were for ancillary industries adjacent to the Tata Motors’ mother plant. A total of 997.11 acres were acquired for the project. Of this 691.66 acres were given away by farmers willingly for a financial package.
“We’ll continue this movement till our demand is fulfilled,” Trinamool Congress leader Madan Mitra said.
West Bengal’s Left Front government, which had thought that the protests against the Tatas would wither away, has been increasingly wooing the Trinamool Congress head to prevent the possible exit of the project from the investment-starved state.
According to official sources, the government will be sending a letter to Banerjee, urging her to arrive at a solution and end the dragging land row.
Trinamool supporters began an indefinite protest at the Nano factory site Sunday.
On Monday, Trinamool leader Mitra denied that their protests had caused traffic jams.
“We are allowing all emergency vehicles through the Durgapur expressway. But we request people to kindly bear with us during this crucial point of our movement,” he said.
Mitra added that the problem of Singur farmers, whose land had been acquired by the state government, was much more critical than the troubled passengers stuck on the way.