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Singur: WB governor backs farmers' interests
B S Reporter in Kolkata
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September 25, 2008 09:29 IST

West Bengal governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi, who was involved in mediation between Trinamool Congress Mamata Banerjee and the West Bengal government to break the Singur deadlock, came out in full support of the farming community on September 24.

Without mentioning Singur even once, his speech highlighted the farmers' interest.

Addressing a seminar on the 'second green revolution', organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce, Gandhi said that the faming community had a mind of its own no less than its urban or industrial equivalents.

"We will, of course, have to think carefully of the location of industrial ventures, not turning to arable land before exhausting other options," he said.

One of the main contentions in Singur was that the land used for the Tata Motors [Get Quote] Rs 1 lakh car project was fertile and multi-crop.

"Land is limited, land is precious, land holds a special value to farmers and their families. We have to be sensitive to those who lose land to the industry knowing fully well that the industry also needs space. Emprical evidence shows that options other than compulsory land acquisition are also possible," he pointed out.

It merits mention that the West Bengal government had to invoke the Land Acquisition Act in Singur when it did not receive consent from farmers accounting for more than 300 acres.

An inclusive approach was required, hinted the governor.

"Farmer cooperatives have established their own special economic zones in Maharashtra," said Gandhi, adding that there were some excellent cooperatives in the Barddhaman and Hooghly districts of West Bengal.

Gandhi said a dialogue should be held much before and not when a crisis was at hand.

"The first imperative is that of a dialogue, not when a crisis hangs overhead, but well in advance," said Gandhi, who had brokered the talks between Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Mamata on September 7 on Singur but which failed to lead to a solution.

"The way in which agriculture and industry are seen juxtaposed is not right. There is scope and need for both", he said.

Asked by reporters whether both the government and Trinamool Congress were flexible to resolve the Singur problem, he said "both want to resolve it."

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