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Land unrest in Kharagpur

Kharagpur, Feb. 1: After Singur and Nandigram, farmers in West Midnapore’s Kharagpur have launched an agitation against the proposed land acquisition for a payloader plant of Tata group company Telcon.

About 1,280 acres are scheduled to be acquired for the project.

Yesterday, about 200 farmers from four mouzas — Ghaylageria, Chakganesh, Baradiha and Jafala — marched to additional district magistrate (general) Smaraki Mahapatra and submitted letters of objection to her. In their letters, the farmers gave details of their landholdings and informed the ADM that they would not give up their land for any industrial project.

Jagannath Mallik of Ghaylageria, who submitted a letter, claimed he was the president of the village committee of the CPM peasants’ wing, All India Krishak Sabha, and said that the plot he cultivated — a little over a bigha — provided him for six months.

“I also cultivate vegetables on 15 cottahs beside my house. I will not give up my land or my house,” said Mallik.

Amrit Dolui of Baradiha village owns a little over an acre and said he and his family of seven were totally dependent on the land. “I cultivate two crops of paddy, mustard and other oilseeds. If the government takes our land away, how will we live'” he asked.

Anath Bhuniya, who owns four bighas in Ghaylageria, cultivates flowers on one-and-a-half bigha and paddy on the rest of the plot. “The land is my only source of income. I won’t give it up,” he said.

The villagers have set up a krishi jomi raksha (save farmland) committee to oppose the land acquisition. “During the next few days we expect about 1,250 farmers to submit letters of objection in two phases,” said Panchanan Pradhan, district secretary of the committee in Kharagpur.

However, district magistrate B.P. Barat said: “This is not the procedure to register objections. First, we will serve notices to the landowners. Farmers can then lodge their objection. The objections submitted yesterday are politically motivated.”

The four mouzas, dominated by the CPM, have mostly single-crop and two-crop land with paddy being the main crop.

The CPM in Kharagpur said party leaders are trying to convince villagers about the benefits of a big unit like Telcon. “Many of them fail to understand that the proposed industry will change the area’s economy for the better. We are speaking to them,” said Mihir Pahari, secretary of Kharagpur rural zonal committee.

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