The deadlock over the prolonged Singur land acquisition issue seems to be heading for an amicable ending. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday announced she will “distribute 800 cheques among farmers in Singur” on September 14. After a meeting at the state secretariat-‘Nabanna’, Banerjee said the administrative review meeting, which was supposed to be held on September 14, will now take place on September 29. The Chief Minister is likely to visit Singur and hand over compensation to some farmers and also return land documents to them, according to a report.
Banerjee has also held deliberations over the current condition of the Singur land even as steps are on to clean the garbage and clear undergrowth from the land near Tata Motor factory.
In a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court set aside the Calcutta High Court order upholding the land acquisition for Tata’s Nano plant at Singur.
In the verdict, the apex court, after finding fault with the land acquisition process, directed the state government to return the acquired land to the cultivators within 12 weeks from August 31. While deciding that the acquisition of land by the State for a company does not fall under the purview of public purpose, the court also held that the land owners/cultivators need not return compensation given to government as they did not use the land for 10 year.
In 2006, the then CPM government led by Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharyya announced that Tata would locate their ‘Rs 1 lakh’ car project — Nano project — in Singur for which some 997 acres of land would be allocated.
Mamata Banerjee then had kicked up a storm and protested the acquisition of the land by industry giants Tata. The farmers, whose land was being acquired by the company, were taking their compensation cheques, however, the agitation led by the Trinamool Congress had turned violent. Banerjee reportedly went on fasting for 26 days against the acquisition of land.
When Banerjee became the chief minister of West Bengal in 2011, she announced her intent to return the Singur land to the “unwilling Singur farmers”.