Kolkata: A three-hour discussion chaired by West Bengal governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi couldn’t break the Singur deadlock, but Trinamool Congress, the state’s principal opposition party, and the state government have agreed to meet again on Saturday for further discussion on farmland acquisition for Tata Motors’ small car factory.
After the meeting, Gandhi said, “We had three hours of useful and constructive discussion. Views were exchanged with a spirit of understanding. Dialogue will resume at 11 tomorrow.”
State government offcials who attended the meeting refused to comment, but Partha Chatterjee, who led the six-member Trinamool Congress team, said “some progress had been made.” The team rushed back to Singur, where they went into a huddle with the party chief Mamata Banerjee.
The state government delegation was led by Nirupam Sen, the commerce and industries minister, said the government had made its proposal to the opposition party. “They (Trinamool Congress) will discuss our proposal with their leaders and express their views tomorrow. I am hopeful that we’ll be able to find a solution.”
Sen was accompanied by Surya Kanta Mishra, minister for panchayat and rural development, three key secretaries — chief secretary, home secretary and commerce and industries secretary — a lawyer, and the managing director of West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation.
The Trinamool Congress had made it clear at the outset that it wouldn’t budge from its demand for return of 400 acres from within the 977-acre plot allotted to Tata Motors, for its small-car plant.
But the government and Tata Motors Ltd insist it is impossible to return land from within the factory site or separate the vendor park from the main plant. While refusing to give in to the Trianmool Congress’ demand, the government is believed to have offered to sweeten the compensation package for all 13,000 farmers from whom land was acquired.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, officials had earlier told Mint, the government was willing to develop a commercial complex on around 40 acres owned by it at Singur for the benefit of farmers. The local media carried reports in the past two days that said the government could also offer a pension scheme and alternative land elsewhere to buy peace with agitating farmers, but government officials wouldn’t confirm these.
Industries minister Sen has been saying that the government would make sure that the income of small and marginal farmers affected by the project would be protected. In Friday’s meeting, the government is believed to have toed the same line, and reiterated that it wasn’t legally possible to return the acquired land.