The Communist Party of India (Marxist), which is the main constituent of the Left Front government in West Bengal, is considering offering alternative areas to farmers whose lands it forcibly acquired for industrial projects.
The government has been criticised for taking 997 acres of land forcibly at Singur, about 40km from Kolkata, to accommodate the Tata Motors Ltd’s project for making the country’s cheapest cars. It is now talking of offering land elsewhere to those farmers who are unwilling to accept the monetary compensation for the area they lost.
While it has set aside Rs118.95 crore in compensation, the state government has already paid about 2,414 owners for 287.52 acres of that land and has offered 10% more on the original price to about 710 land owners, who resisted the original price. In an affidavit in the Kolkata high court on Thursday, the government stated that owners of about 326 acres have refused to accept any monetary compensation.
Mamata Banerjee, the leader of the Opposition party in the state, Trinamool Congress, has been demanding that the land should be returned to the farmers who are unwilling to sell their land. She conveyed this demand to CPM’s veteran leader and politburo member, Jyoti Basu, earlier this week, when he called her to end the ongoing political war over land issues in the state.
The state government has already begun a process of identifying the land that can be offered to those farmers who have not accepted the compensation and are still fighting the forcible acquisition.
“Nirupam (Sen, the state commerce and industries minister) is preparing the list (of land owners) and we are looking into the various legal factors involved,” Basu said after his party’s state secretariat met this afternoon. “I am hopeful that we will resolve the issue soon,” he said, without elaborating further.
Sen acknowledged that he had been assigned the task by chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, according to a party leader present at the meeting who did not wish to be named.
So far, Banerjee has demanded that the land that was forcibly acquired be returned to the farmers. It is unclear whether the disgruntled farmers will accept land elsewhere.