The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sweeter deal for farmers
- Compensation to be based on highest 6-month price

Calcutta, Dec. 31: The government has decided to fix compensation for landlosers on the basis of the highest sale price in the area in the six months prior to acquisition.

The value of land in Singur was worked out on the basis of the average price in the past three years.

Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and industries minister Nirupam Sen revealed the plan to sweeten the package for those losing their land for industry and infrastructure projects while briefing the CPM state committee today.

The move is aimed at pre-empting possible resistance to the acquisition of some 40,000 acres in the near future.

Bhattacharjee and Sen detailed to the party various aspects of the government’s industrialisation drive and the investment scene in Bengal.

The chief minister assured the meeting that the government was “trying its best to protect farmers’ interests and strike a balance between industry and agriculture”.

Both made it clear that it would not be possible to avoid acquisition of farmland as fallow or barren land was rare in Bengal.

The new land-pricing formula will benefit farmers in South 24-Parganas, West and East Midnapore, Purulia and Bankura, where a string of projects are slated to come up.

“We had initially thought of declaring all South 24-Parganas farmland multi-crop. But the consequent tax burden would have harmed farmers. It is better to give farmers the highest price that the land would have fetched before acquisition,” said Shamik Lahiri, an MP from the district.

In Singur, the land price varied according to their character mentioned in land records. So, many farmers got the price of mono-crop land though, in reality, it was multi-crop, thanks to development of the land with technology.

The government’s policy of “providing alternative livelihood to those solely dependent on land” will now include “opportunities for direct jobs” in industrial units to come up on the land. Earlier, there was promise of vocational training and trading centres and kiosks for self-employment.

The CPM brass have been trying to get the party’s rank and file behind them to counter the “misinformation campaign” led by Mamata Banerjee. Today, it decided to launch a campaign focusing on “industrialisation and job-generation as well as increased farm productivity”.

The party politburo, meeting here from tomorrow, will put its seal of approval on the Bengal government’s land acquisition drive. “There is no need for further discussions. Our policy is clear,’’ politburo member Brinda Karat told The Telegraph today.

However, some members of the party’s central secretariat said the Bengal government’s land policy was likely to come up during the central committee session that will follow the politburo meeting.

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