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Singur impasse ends: West Bengal govt agrees to return some land

Singur impasse ends: West Bengal govt agrees to return some land
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First Published: Mon, Sep 08 2008. 01 54 AM IST

West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi (third from left) at the Raj Bhawan with Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya (extreme right) and Trinamool congress chief Mamata Banerjee (extreme left) aft
West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi (third from left) at the Raj Bhawan with Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya (extreme right) and Trinamool congress chief Mamata Banerjee (extreme left) aft
Updated: Mon, Sep 08 2008. 01 54 AM IST
Kolkata: The West Bengal government struck a deal with the Trinamool Congress — the state’s principal opposition party — to end its 14-day siege of Singur, where Tata Motors Ltd is building a factory to manufacture the Nano — the world’s cheapest car, priced at around Rs1 lakh.
After two rounds of discussion between chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattcharjee and Trinamool Congress chairperson Mamata Banerjee, the government late on Sunday evening agreed to return land to some 2,200 farmers who had not sold their land willingly for the project and have not collected compensation.
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West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi (third from left) at the Raj Bhawan with Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya (extreme right) and Trinamool congress chief Mamata Banerjee (extreme left) after the breakthrough on Singur.
A statement issued late in the evening by West Bengal governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi, who presided over the meetings, said, “The government has taken the decision to respond to the demands of those farmers who have not received compensation, by means of land to be provided to the maximum within the project area and the rest in adjacent area as early as possible.”
It has also been decided that a four-member committee — with two representatives from the Trinamool Congress-led protestors and two from the government — will be formed to assess the availability of land within the 997-acre project area and outside, within a week. The committee will be headed by the Trinamool’s legislator from Singur, Rabindranath Bhattacharya.
The government has requested all component suppliers, who were setting up workshops in the so called vendor park, to stop work until the four-member committee has submitted its report on availability of land within the project area. But Tata Motors, which has stopped work at the factory in view of the ongoing agitation, could restart work at its factory. The government has so far allotted land to some 60 component makers in the 290-acre vendor park.
Banerjee, who agreed to suspend her sit-in demonstration in Singur from tomorrow, said, “We have been fighting for two years… This is a big thing and a total victory for us.” She reiterated that she wanted the component suppliers to vacate the vendor park and move to a plot across the highway. “We have asked 300 acres from within the project area, and 100 acres outside it,” she added, addressing a press conference jointly with the governor and the chief minister.
“I congratulate and thank all those who have participated in this process,” said Gandhi, who met Bhattacharjee and Banerjee separately, before presiding over two rounds of talks between them on Sunday.
Tata Motors, which had earlier said it wouldn’t separate the vendor park from the main factory, said on Sunday evening that the government hadn’t communicated to it the decisions taken at the meeting, and so it wouldn’t comment on the development.
On 22 August, Tata Motors’ chairman Ratan Tata had threatened to pull out of West Bengal if the company’s workers continued to be attacked by protesting farmers.
romita.d@livemint.com
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First Published: Mon, Sep 08 2008. 01 54 AM IST