Kolkata: The Singur crisis intensified on Friday with Mamata Banerjee, West Bengal’s principal opposition leader, walking out of talks with chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee after spurning the state government’s latest offer to end her campaign against Tata Motors Ltd’s small car project.
This was the second meeting between the two, in which the state government offered 60-70 acres for rehabilitation of 13,000 farmers from whom land was seized for the Tata Motors factory.
Banerjee told a press conference later that she rejected the proposal. The All India Trinamool Congress, which she heads, continues to insist that the government must return at least 300 acres from within the project area.
Stubborn stance: Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress says the government must return at least 300 acres from within the project area. Indranil Bhoumik / Mint
Banerjee said she expected the government to abide by the agreement brokered by the state’s governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi on Sunday. In that agreement, the government had committed to return “maximum land” from within the project area, but the government has since backtracked, saying it was impossible to do so without killing the project.
“I still hope the government will fulfil commitments made by it in the agreement,” Banerjee told a press conference.
A four-member committee has been formed to assess the availability of land in and around the Singur factory, where Tata Motors has suspended work.
This committee is vertically split—two of them, activists of the Trinamool Congress, say land from within the project area could be returned and the other two, representatives of the state government, say that is impossible.
Meanwhile, Tata Motors on Friday dragged the West Bengal government to court for revealing confidential details of the agreement under which it located the Rs1 lakh Nano car project in Singur.
The Calcutta high court passed an order restraining the government from revealing the text of Tata Motors’ agreement with West Bengal Industrial Development Corp. Ltd, or WBIDC, after the company’s lawyer argued that making it public would hurt the auto maker’s interests.
West Bengal’s commerce and industry secretary, Sabyasachi Sen, said the government had not disclosed the confidential annexures of the agreement, which was made public by the government after the Trinamool Congress demanded it.
The four-page document was posted on WBIDC’s website earlier this month. West Bengal’s commerce and industry minister Nirupam Sen had revealed almost all the contents of the document in the state assembly soon after signing the deal in March last year.
The agreement indicates the lease rent and the incentives to be offered by the government for the factory. Besides providing 645 acres for a lease rent of Rs1 crore a year (for the first five years) and a host of tax sops, the government offered electricity to the factory at a subsidized rate of Rs3 per kWh and a Rs200 crore loan at 1%, the repayment of which will start after 20 years.