The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Murmurs over tanner shift

The government and the party spoke in one voice on Monday when it came to tanners following the Supreme Court directive to shift to Bantala. But that did not stifle the scepticism in both quarters about state industry minister Nirupam Sen’s claims that everything was in place at the new leather complex.

Left Front chairman Biman Bose tried to gloss over Sen’s claims, made last week, by referring to them as coming from a “different perspective”, while urging both partners in the joint-venture project — the state government and M.L. Dalmiya and Co. — to “complete every aspect” of the complex. “The state government should also think about the smaller tanneries that have not got plots there,” he added.

Sen’s departmental secretary Jawhar Sircar all but admitted that Bantala was not all ready when he said the government was trying to “improve the infrastructure” there and meet the leather lobby’s demands.

After meeting representatives of 14 tanners’ associations on Monday, he said: “I do understand that they are worried about lack of power, water and good roads there.” Sircar added that the government was speaking to various banks on behalf of the tanners to help them get the necessary finances.

There was every indication that not everyone within the Front was happy with the government’s handling of the tannery trouble, when CPI leader Gurudas Dasgupta failed to “see anything wrong” in party member and minister Nandagopal Bhattacharya’s participation in traffic-stopping demonstrations, protesting government tactics to force the tanners to shift out of Tangra-Tiljala-Topsia.

But both the Left Front and the CPM reiterated on Monday that there was no option for the tanners but to heed the apex court directive and move out of the Tangra belt. “I think they, too, realise that now,” Sircar said.

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