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Tata threatens to pull out of West Bengal
The impasse caused by the indefinite dharna of the Trinamul Congress and its leader Mamata Banerjee sitting outside the Rs 1 lakh Nano plant of Tata Motors [Get Quote] at Singur continued today even as the Left Front held talks with MLAs of opposition parties excluding the TC.
In Kolkata, the West Bengal government met opposition party MLAs but told them it was not possible to hand over a copy of the full agreement with the Tata Motors to the Opposition without the consent of the Tatas.
"It is not possible for the state government to hand over the agreement without the consent of the Tatas," Commerce and Industries Minister Nirupam Sen told MLAs at a meeting of the Standing Committee of state Assembly on Commerce and Industries in Kolkata.
Sen added that he himself had no objection to release of the agreement to the Opposition. The agreement was signed on March 9, 2007.
In a parallel development, Banerjee scaled back her plan to stage state-wide protests on the Singur issue, and announced from Singur that her workers would block traffic "for only one hour from 4pm on Friday" on the issue.
Earlier, Banerjee had warned her party would hold state-wide protests.
Banerjee received unexpected support when a group of senior artists from the Bengali stage and theatre visited her protest platform at Singur to express their support for her cause.
Banerjee was expected to move from her Singur protest platform either for the August 29 protest or for the September 1 rally planned in Kolkata by her party, and the government was expecting to clinch a deal with her by then, said sources close to the development.
Sen briefed the MLAs serving on the committee about concessions extended by state government to the Tata Motors project. Sen claimed the West Bengal government might save Rs 200 crore (Rs 2 billion) on account of soft loan which it was supposed to have provided to Tata Motors as the Centre had reduced excise duty in the budget on small cars from 16 per cent to 12.5 per cent.
The government wanted immediate talks with TC to lift the blockade of National Highway 2 at Singur as over 4,000 trucks were stranded there with industrial cargo as well as food items like fish, eggs and vegetables.
Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharjee, the state home secretary and chief secretary A K Deb asked Hooghly district magistrate Neelam Meena to hold talks to lift the blockade as it could lead to scarcity and price rise of essential commodities in Kolkata market.
TC was demanding return of 400 acres of land to farmers who had not accepted compensation for their land after it was acquired as part of the 997 acre plot to house the Nano plant, ancillary units and supporting infrastructure.
However, Hindustan Motors [Get Quote] clarified on Wednesday that it had shut operations at its unit at Hind Motors for a day on Wednesday because of a shortage of raw materials to keep the unit running and also disruption of deliveries.
The Hind Motors plant with 200-odd workers produced a few hundred Ambassador cars a month. "The weekly off scheduled for Saturday was shifted to today and the unit will work on Saturday as we have managed to get goods and raw materials stuck on the highway through alternative routes like air cargo and train", said sources.
The plant resumed operations.
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