Singur Bill passed, Tatas say it's silent on why they moved out

Kolkata: The West Bengal assembly today passed a bill empowering the West Bengal government to return land in Singur to farmers. The Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Bill, 2011, was passed by voice vote amid protests and the subsequent walk-out by the opposition. The Left MLAs cited legal loopholes in the bill.

The Singur Bill was passed today amid an opposition walkout. Reuters

Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said the bill intended to undo the injustice meted out to the farmers whose land was forcefully acquired in 2006 for setting up Tata Motor's Nano car manufacturing unit.

She said her government did not want to divide the 'willing' and 'unwilling' farmers, but the situation had forced them to resort to the measure. Banerjee said the land could be returned if the farmers were willing to get it back.

The Singur Land Rehabilitation and Development Bill, 2011, will enable the government to return land to farmers who had unwillingly parted with their land and also did not accept compensation.

The bill vests the entire 997.17 acre of acquired land at Singur for the now abandoned Nano project along with the existing structure with the state government. The government would return equivalent quantum of land to "unwilling" farmers in 400 acres.

The remaining land would be utilised for socio-economic development, employment generation, industry and other public purposes.

Responding to the bill, Tata Motors said it reluctantly closed operations and eventually moved out of Singur. The bill did not cite the reasons for stoppage of operations and shifting of the plant, a statement from the company said.

Tata Motors said the bill blamed the company for "non-commissioning and abandoning" of the plant and added that it wanted to clarify that the operations of setting up and commissioning of the plant was conducted under very difficult conditions, amidst violence, disruption of activities, damage to property, threats to personnel.

"An appeal was made on August 22, 2008, for a congenial environment, which was rebuffed with an escalation of hostilities through a blockade on the highway, more incidents of physical assault and intimidation of personnel.

"Therefore, Tata Motors did not find the situation congenial to continue its operations and, there being no guarantee of a safe and peaceful environment, had to reluctantly close operations on October 3, 2008, and eventually moved out," the company said.

The homegrown auto major had taken 997.17 acres of land on lease from the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) to set up the plant and vendors' park.

"Tata Motors had set up the plant, at the invitation of the West Bengal Government, to revitalise the automotive industry in the state and contribute to its industrial revival," it added.


Published Date: Jun 14, 2011 05:07 pm | Updated Date: Jun 14, 2011 09:28 pm