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CM flags off drive for peace
- Mistakes and new site on Buddha’s lips

Calcutta, March 28: Admitting mistakes and owning responsibility for Nandigram, chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee today initiated a reconciliation process and signalled the revival of the industrialisation campaign.

“We made some mistakes in Nandigram and have learnt a few lessons. On behalf of the government, I am owning responsibility for what had happened there,” the chief minister said at his first public meeting since the firing in which at least 14 people died.

If the admission was an iteration of similar sentiment expressed at a closed-door Left Front meeting soon after the tragedy, Bhattacharjee went a step further today by setting the tone for political reconciliation.

“Any death is tragic. There should not be clashes and bloodshed. I am appealing to the Opposition to disarm themselves and ensure restoration of peace. Leftists are also human beings and they should not be attacked,’’ the chief minister told the gathering of the CPM’s youth and student wings, the DYFI and the SFI.

Giving a personal assurance to the people of Nandigram that a chemical hub would not be built there, Bhattacharjee suggested that he could announce the alternative site in seven days.

“A chemical hub would have transformed the entire area. But it’s me who is officially saying today that the government won’t go to Nandigram. Today, I had a talk with Delhi. I will send in my letter within seven days,’’ he said, presumably referring to a government plan to locate the hub in Haldia.

Bhattacharjee also took care to address the concerns of the Opposition. “We should be more careful and cautious while taking steps for industrialisation,” he said.

Reacting to the admission of lapses, Trinamul Congress leader Mamata Banerjee asked: “If Buddhadeb babu says so, why isn’t he resigning'”

The chief minister’s conciliatory comments came ahead of a public relations offensive by the CPM, which has lined up a string of rallies in all districts.

The chief minister sought to signal that industrialisation is on track, saying an electronic chip production plant and a bio-fuel project would come up in Haldia.

Later, officials said Haldia would be the best option to build the chemical SEZ. The second SEZ — a multi-product one — proposed by the Salim Group will come up elsewhere.

Asked whether Haldia has the 250 square kilometres required under the PCPIR (petroleum, chemicals and petrochemicals investment region), commerce and industry secretary Sabyasachi Sen said: “Nobody is going to measure whether the area is exactly that size. We can ask the Centre to scale down the requirement.”

 

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