By Jay Shankar, Bloomberg
Bangalore: The West Bengal state abandoned a plan to acquire land in a rural area for industrial projects after protests by local villagers in which 14 people were killed.
Police have started withdrawing from Nandigram following the state government’s decision not to acquire the land, said A.B.Vohra, West Bengal’s director general of police, in a phone interview from Kolkata today.
“The state will not acquire land in Nandigram for industry,” Amit Kiran Deb, chief secretary and top bureaucrat in the state, said today in a phone interview from Kolkata, the state capital. “The local people have resisted the move.”
The deaths occurred when residents of Nandigram clashed with police on 14 March, said Vohra.
The government of state Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya is facing resistance from farmers unwilling to give up their land as it tries to woo investors to set up factories, townships and export zones. The state’s efforts to secure land in Singur for a $224 million (Rs981 crore) car project by Tata Motors Ltd, India’s biggest automobile company, has also been opposed.
India’s parliament was adjourned for a fifth day today for an hour after angry lawmakers continued their protests against the deaths in Nandigram.
The Salim Group, Universal Success Group and Indian realtor Unitech Ltd. said in July they will build infrastructure projects in West Bengal in the next 15 years, proposing to invest at least $752 million. Among the projects planned is a chemical industrial estate, including a 10,000-acre export zone at Nandigram.
Dozens of demonstrators and police officers were injured in clashes yesterday in a protest organized by the Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind Muslim group, S.N. Sarkar, additional commissioner of police, said in a phone interview from Kolkata today.
The protesters marched on West Bengal state government offices in Kolkata to demand the resignation of Bhattacharya and senior police officials.
Bhattacharya steered the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Front to a seventh straight win in the West Bengal state election in May. His party is a supporter of the federal ruling coalition. The Marxists have ruled West Bengal for 28 years in a row.