The furore over Tata Motors’ small-car plant in West Bengal’s Singur should have been consigned to the past by now. Yet, the years-old fiasco remains unresolved, and so does the future of the land once meant for the plant, where Tata has been doggedly keeping its lease alive.
The company’s hopes of recouping money spent on the project may not be. The Trinamool Congress insists it will hand over a large part of the land to farmers if it comes to power in the coming state elections, though this has little legal basis. And compensating Tata for the land, or unilaterally ending the lease, would both be fraught measures. What would happen to the land is anybody’s guess.
The Singur problem is likely to fester for long years. Meanwhile, the public purpose for which the land had been acquired will flounder, taking with it West Bengal’s—and perhaps India’s—hopes of reconciling private property and public interest.