Kolkata: India’s Tata Motors said on Thursday the southern state of Karnataka had offered land for a production plant for its cheap Nano car after the firm suspended work in West Bengal due to violent protests.
The company planned to roll out the Rs100,000 ($2,380) Nano from communist-run West Bengal from October, but farmers angry over losing their land and supported by opposition politicians forced work to be halted.
“Karnataka has offered 1,000 acres of land and incentives for setting up the Nano plant in the state,” a Tata Motors spokeswoman told Reuters after Ravi Kant, the firm’s managing director, had met the state’s chief minister.
Kant later told TV channels the company was considering its options: “We are watching the situation and actively looking at alternatives.”
Tata Motors had said it would look for alternative locations for a plant for the Nano, dubbed the world’s cheapest car, after calling a halt to work in West Bengal.
Many farmers in Singur, an hour’s drive from West Bengal’s capital, Kolkata, and where Tata Motors was building its factory, say they were forced off their land without adequate compensation.
Some said their consent was not sought and land was seized by authorities.
They want their land returned and have been backed by the local Trinamool Congress party, which has been spearheading the protests. Hopes for a resolution grew after the state government and Trinamool formed a panel to identify land within the project site which could be handed back to farmers.
But after state officials and Tata Motors said no compromise could be reached, Trinamool rejected offers of 50% more compensation for farmers who have lost land, throwing the project into further uncertainty.
The dispute reflects a larger standoff between industry in India and farmers unwilling to part with land in a country where two-thirds of the billion-plus population depend on agriculture.