While Singur has been a victory in establishing farmers’ right, there cannot be any conflict between industry and agriculture, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee said after handing over compensatory cheques and deeds of Singur land to farmers going by the judgment of the Supreme Court.
The apex court, quashing the former Left Front government’s land acquisition, directed the current Trinamool Congress government to return 997.11 acres acquired for the Nano project within 12 weeks of the judgments to the original holders and also give away the compensatory cheques to those who didn’t away give their land willingly.
“In two weeks we have been able to start the process of giving land deeds and cheques to the farmers,” Mamata said. On Wednesday, while observing Singur Divas, the government handed over 9,117 land deeds and 806 cheques to the farmers.
While Mamata announced a slew of projects that would help reviving agriculture in Singur, she offered 1,000 acres to the Tatas and BMW as well to set up automobile industry in the state. “I have 1,000 acres at Goaltore (West Midnapore district). It’s a government vest land. I have land at Kharagpur, Panagarh and even Howrah. I can give it to the Tatas or even BMW if they want to set up an automobile industry here. This land is from the government land bank and I have full control of it. Why give others’ land on which I have no right,” Mamata said, adding that Singur land has to go back to its original holders — the farmers.
The state irrigation department, she said, would put up new check dams and install fresh mini irrigation system in Singur to make agriculture conducive. Besides, the state would set up a custom hiring centre from where farmers can avail loan of up to Rs 24 lakh, a farmers’ training centre and demonstration centre at Singur for development of agriculture. The government will also provide R10,000 to each family, attached with the 997 acres, to develop farming on the land used by the Tatas for making the Nano factory.
On the other side, Mamata has given a month’s time to the Tatas to consider taking land where the government offers. The Tatas on the strength of an indemnity clause in the agreement signed with the previous government will demand compensation for the loss they have incurred for having to pull out of Singur with its Nano project. The offer of land to the Tatas is an outright offer to compensate for the losses the Tatas have incurred. “We can compensate them by land, we have no money to give”, state finance, commerce and industry minister Amit Mitra told FE at a meeting of the Bengal Chamber of Commerce. Our chief minister is doing the balancing act,” Mitra said.
“Let’s take it sportingly. The Singur chapter is over. Our government is working with many Tata companies. Even tomorrow, we are going to sign an agreement with the Tatas to impart training in the state-run ITIs. I want IT, I want manufacturing, I want heavy industry, I want automobile industry to thrive in the state. But at same time I want agriculture to prosper and environment to remain ecofriendly,” Mamata told the huge gathering from a 5,000-sq feet dais.
Social activist Medha Patkar, who was present at the programme, termed the Singur agitation and its victory historic.