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Tatas set land record straight

Calcutta, Aug. 21: The Singur plant will require a full 1,000 acres since the ancillary units are an integral part of the small-car project, Tata Motors has clarified to the state government through a letter.

“We had sent a letter to the Tata Motors managing director (Ravi Kant) to find out what exactly they had written to Mamata Banerjee on the land requirement in Singur and its use,” industries minister Nirupam Sen said today.

“He has replied that the small-car plant would need 1,000 acres, and that the vendors or ancillary units are very much part of the project.”

The clarification comes at a time Ratan Tata is in the city for tomorrow’s Tata Tea AGM.

Mamata had yesterday flashed a letter she had received from the Tatas and read out a portion that said the small-car plant itself would require 600-650 acres and the suppliers the remaining 300-350 acres. She had then demanded that the ancillary units be removed elsewhere and 400 acres from the 1,000-acre project plot returned to farmers from whom land had been “forcibly” acquired.

Thursday’s edition of The Telegraph carried a photograph of another portion of the letter — not read out by the Trinamul Congress leader — that explained how crucial the vendors were to the project.

Sen today said there was no room for confusion any more after the Tatas’ letter to the government. “The Tatas have made it clear that the project area is 1,000 acres. Therefore, no confusion remains.”

Earlier in the day, the industries minister had reaffirmed the legal and practical difficulties in returning land, as demanded by Mamata.

“She should understand that it would be next to impossible to give back the 400 acres. If Trinamul comes up with any other proposal, we can discuss it,’’ he said.

Mamata said her indefinite dharna at Singur would start as scheduled on August 24, and that party workers would squat on the roads if prevented from setting up their planned 21 camps around the Tata project area.

“We’ll sit on the road if the government refuses to allow the camps. If prohibitory orders are clamped, that would be highly undemocratic and would amount to applying force,” she said.

State home secretary Asok Mohan Chakrabarti said he would discuss with the Hooghly authorities how to maintain law and order at Singur during the siege.

“The local administration is talking to those leading the movement and trying to find out about the mode of agitation. I shall talk to the district administration in a day or two. However, prohibitory orders haven’t been considered yet,” Chakrabarti said.

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