'Now, I can die in peace': Moral victory for Mamata Banerjee as SC scraps Singur land deal

An elated West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee evoked late Mahasweta Devi and others "who made sacrifices fighting for" the Singur land that was given to the Tatas after the Supreme Court on Wednesday scrapped the deal. The court has directed the state government to take possession of 400 acres of land and distribute it among the original land owners within 12 weeks.

The Supreme Court set aside the land acquired the West Bengal Government in 2006 to facilitate Tata Motors to set up its plant for the ambitious ultra-small car, the Nano. Addressing the press in Kolkata, Mamata said, "I am remembering those people who made sacrifices fighting for this. I would expect everyone to celebrate this Singur utsav, it's like a invocation of the celebration to Durga Puja."

Mamata added that the government will follow the Supreme Court instructions and will call a strategy meeting on Thursday at 4 pm "to see how to implement them."

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee addresses a press conference after SC scrapped Singur land deal. Image courtesy: @ANI_news

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee addresses a press conference after SC scrapped Singur land deal. Image courtesy: @ANI_news

The top court ruling on the Singur land deal comes as a moral victory for the chief minister because she, as the then Opposition leader, had propelled massive farmer protests. In 2008, the Tatas were finally forced to move their Nano plant to Sanand in Gujarat. The agitation and the outcome had helped Mamata clinch the state had dominance in the state's political scene. So, for Mamata, a lot was at stake with the Singur ruling.

The Mamata government in 2011, with the promulgation of a law, had seized the land from the Tatas without paying them a penny. This was the first law passed by her government.

One of her key poll promises, in 2011 and 2016, was to return the land to farmers who did not take compensation.

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court also announced that the farmers, who got compensation from the then government, will not return it because they were deprived of their livelihood for the last ten years. The apex court also said that the Tatas had bypassed the rules while acquiring the land. A batch of petitions had challenged the acquisition of land in West Bengal's Singur for Tata Motors' ambitious Nano small car project. The top court also noted that the Left government had seemed determined that the project must come up in the state, and it was the company which seemed to have chosen the precise location for the project.

The Singur protests gained global attention because at the centre was a project to roll out the world's cheapest car and brought into focus the use of agricultural land for industrial use.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Aug 31, 2016 15:51 PM

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