Senior West Bengal Minister Partha Chattopadhay on Sunday claimed the Tata Motors had sought land for the Nano car project in Kharagpur, but it was the then Left Front government which had allotted land in Singur for the plant in 2006.
Over three weeks after the Supreme Court struck down the land acquisition for the project and ordered that the land be returned to its original owners, state Education and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Chattopadhyay attacked the LF regime for “snatching multi-crop land for the project”.
Addressing a rally in Singur of Hooghly district, about 40 km from here, Chattopadhyay said the Trinamool Congress had wanted the Nano to be rolled out from the state. “But we wanted the factory to come up on a land earmarked for industry, and not on multi-crop agricultural land.”
He said as the leader of opposition in the assembly then, he had demanded time and again that the agreement between the Tata Motors and the state government be placed in the House.
“But the LF government did not agree. Later, after I became minister, I found out official files that the Tatas had sought land at Kharagpur and not at Singur for the project.”
The rally was organised to observe Singur Adhikar Raksha Divas (Singur rights protection day). It was on this day in 2006 that present Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee – then an opposition leader – had laid siege on the Singur Block Development office protesting against what she called “fraudulent distribution of cheques to land owners”.
Police had late in the night driven out Banerjee from the BDO office.
Following an intense and often-violent peasant movement that demanded return of 400 acres – out of the total acquired land of 997.11 acres – to those farmers who did not want to part with their land, the Tatas announced shifting the project out of Singur on Oct 3, 2008. Later, the Nano was rolled out from Sanand in Gujarat.
Soon after coming to power, the Trinamool government had formulated a law to return the land to the cultivators. The Tatas went to court, and on August 31 the Supreme Court struck down the land acquisition made by the LF government for the project and ordered the land be given back to the cultivators.