The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Job demand absurd: Sen

Calcutta, June 4: Industries minister Nirupam Sen has ruled out direct employment for farmers whose land will be acquired for the Tata Motors project at Singur.

“In the age of a competitive global market, it’s absurd to ask for direct jobs for the evicted in industries that displace them. Do farmers have the training and expertise to work in such units (like Tata Motors’ project)' Those who are making this demand are indulging in populist politics. We have to be practical,” he told The Telegraph today.

Sen said the same policy would hold for land-losers in other industrial and infrastructure projects that come up on around 40,000 acres of farmland to be acquired across the state.

Left Front partners and a section of the CPM want the government to ensure jobs for the displaced farmers.

The minister said: “This cannot be part of official policy since the government cannot guarantee jobs. Nevertheless, we will try to ensure indirect income for displaced people who live below the poverty line or solely depend on land with the help of private investors.”

Moves have been initiated in the Bantala leather complex area and the Bankura foundry complex to set up kiosks or markets for the displaced people. Sen pins his hope on the cascading effect of industrial and infrastructure growth on local economies.

“The growth of ancillary industries, construction of roads, townships and markets would generate enough jobs.”

He ruled out further discussion on the compensation and rehabilitation package the government has drawn up for farming families who will have to give up their land. Nor will there be any other policy.

“It (the package) has been decided on the model of the national policy following discussion in the Left Front. If the front decides to ponder over the issue later, we will do it.”

Differences within the front and the CPM are, however, far from settled. “I have not seen what the cabinet has passed. Our policy is to provide a job to a member of each evicted family which owns less than one hectare and depends solely on income from it. The job has to be given in the same project that displaces them,” said Samar Baora, state secretary of CPM’s Krishak Sabha.

Front partners insist on jobs and more compensation. “We want jobs and resettlement of all evicted families,” said CPI state secretariat member Satya Bhattacharjee.

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