West Bengal governor moots ‘farm-factory balance’ to solve Singur row

September 13th, 2008 - 3:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Kolkata, Sep 13 (IANS) West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi, who has been trying to resolve the contentious land problem over Tata Motors’ Nano factory in Singur, Saturday said a “farm-factory balance” should be reached to resolve the impasse.Referring to meetings between the ruling Left Front and the principal opposition Trinamool Congress party over the “illegal” acquisition of farmland for the Nano factory in Singur, he said in a statement: “Through the Singur discussions on Sep 5,6 and 7, I saw earnest participants showing a rare spirit of accommodation. That spirit needs to be operationalised.

“Reason can be reasonable; passion dispassionate. I believe, given the will, a solution can still be found in a manner that accords with the law, safeguards the interests of farmers, of the small car factory and going beyond, help in establishing the farm-factory balance that we so vitally need.”

On Friday evening, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and the state government failed to agree on the acreage to be given to farmers to compensate for agricultural land “forcibly” acquired for the small car project.

Banerjee was apparently upset over the government offering the “unwilling farmers” a “mere 70 acres” within the factory site against her demand of “at least 300 acres”.

Banerjee found the government’s offer “unacceptable”.

The government had Friday evening placed a comprehensive package before the opposition chief, saying it would provide 70 acres within the project area to the “unwilling” farmers, of which 40 acres belongs to the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) and the remaining would be given from the main project area. The government asked the opposition to look for the rest of the land according to their demand outside the project area.

It also agreed to provide additional 50 percent of the land price to those whose land has been acquired for the project. In case of an absentee landlord, the government said it will provide 50 percent of the land price in cash to the registered share croppers. It also said it would provide 300 days’ wages to unregistered share croppers and agricultural labourers.

The government promised jobs to one member from each of the families and to build schools, roads and hospitals in and around Singur for ‘community development’ at its own cost.

Tata Motors started setting up the unit in Singur, 40 km from here, two years ago to produce the world’s cheapest car Nano, priced at Rs.100,000 ($2,250). The company has invested Rs.15 billion in the project so far, its officials said.

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