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Back to square one! Mamata wants Nano land
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September 09, 2008 17:33 IST
Last Updated: September 09, 2008 17:51 IST

The Trinamool Congress on Tuesday demanded from the West Bengal government that 300 acres of land should be given from within the Tata Motors [Get Quote] project area in Singur to 'unwilling farmers,' even as the government reassured the Tatas that no land would be taken out of the company's main plant in Singur.

After a meeting of the four-member committee formed to discuss the modalities for a land-based solution to the contentious issue, Trinamool Congress MLA Rabindranath Bhattacharya told reporters in Kolkata that "we have sought 300 acres of land from within the project area."

Tatas shocked by Singur deal; to suspend work

He said the team, comprising himself, Becharam Manna - also of the Trinamool Congress, WBIDC managing director Subrata Gupta and Hooghly District Magistrate Neelam Meena, will inspect the project area on Wednesday after which they will again hold a meeting.

WB govt reassures Tatas, asks to start operation in Singur

Meanwhile, the West Bengal government has asked Tata Motors to start operations at its small car manufacturing unit and reassured that no land would be taken out of the company's main plant in Singur or from areas earmarked for its ancillary units for giving to landlosers."We have assured the Tatas again that no land will be taken out of the project area and the state government wants Nano car to roll out from Singur," state Commerce and Industry Minister Nirupam Sen said in an interview to a private TV channel.

To a question Sen said, the government had never agreed to the opposition Trinamool Congress's demand made during the bilateral talks at Raj Bhavan on Sunday that it should part with the Tata small car project land to the land losers.

"We have agreed to explore the possibility of identifying and locating as much land available in the area for giving it to those affected by the land acquisition," he said, adding that there was a patch of land under the custody of West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation.

Expressing hope that opposition parties would appreciate the "gravity of the situation" if the Tatas pulled out of the project in view of the disruption, Sen said in the interview telecast on Tuesday "I appeal to all to facilitate the Tatas to restart the operations at the Singur plant peacefully and smoothly."

Responding to the anxiety expressed by the Tatas about the reported parting of land in the project area as claimed by the opposition after Sunday's talks, he exhorted the opposition not to campaign in a way which would prevent the Tatas from restarting work.

Sen said the government has assured Tata Motors that land in the project would be kept intact and the company would have no difficulty in restarting work.

Asked about the possibilty of Tata shifting to Pantnagar in Uttarakhand, the Minister said it would be 'utterly unfortunate' for West Bengal.

"We strongly believe that congenial atmosphere will prevail in the Singur project area and the opposition will fully cooperate with the government and the Tatas in ensuring that the Nano car roll out from West Bengal becomes a reality."

West Bengal government was doing its best to pave the way for restart of the plant operations, he said.

Sen's comments came in response to the concern expressed by Tata Motors Managing Director Ravi Kant about the opposition's claims that part of the project land would be taken as per the understanding reached at in Sunday's meeting chaired by Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi.

Kant had sought a clarification from the state government about the agreement. The state government had on Monday said there would not be any change in the Tata Motors' Singur plant, nor any relocation of the vendors' park.

"There will not be any change in the Tata project, nor any relocation of vendors' park," Sen had told reporters in the presence of Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharjee at the state secretariat.

Sen had said the Nano plant and vendor's park are an integrated project "and it is a very important issue."

West Bengal Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi, who had taken a personal initiative to break the Singur deadlock, had read out a statement signed by Trinamool Congress and the West Bengal government on Sunday that "the government will make efforts to provide maximum land to unwilling farmers from within the project area, while additional land would be provided from adjacent areas".

Controversy erupted later when Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee interpreted "maximum land" as 300 acres which both the sides had agreed upon.

Subsequently, Tata Motors reacted that the statement issued by the Governor lacked clarity and their decision to suspend work at Singur will not be revoked.

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