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Govt nurses 60-acre hope

Calcutta, Sept. 8: The state government is still clinging to hope that the Nano plant would stay in Singur.

“Messy yes, but not irretrievable,” an official said.

The government and the CPM feel that the Tatas’ fears flowed from an unfamiliarity with political nuances and the way Mamata operated. A senior minister felt that the Tatas reacted “too soon”.

They insisted that the most significant sentence in yesterday’s statement was the conc- luding one: “The government and those who have been agitating on behalf of the farmers will co-operate with each other for the benefit of the industry, agriculture and ancillaries.”

According to government sources, though ancillaries are part of industry, they were deliberately mentioned specifically to ensure that the interests of both were protected and they were not tampered with.

As for Mamata’s claims, the sources said, she would continue to claim victory because of political compulsions.

The government feels that it would be able to find 55 to 60 acres inside the factory complex without touching the main plant or the vendor park. The land will be collected from the tracts with the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation (WBIDC) and those earmarked for landscaping. The government is also willing to buy over 100 acres outside the complex.

However, since it has ag- reed to make efforts to find “land to the maximum” within the project area, the government will run a comb through the site. “Several plots have remained vacant in the park, though over two years have gone by after allotment. We can ask the lessees to return the vacant land if they do not want to build structures,” an official said.

However, the Tatas had made it clear that the land was acquired with future expansion in mind and it had already scaled down the original demand for 1,050 acres.

The government is also banking on pressure on the ground in Singur to persuade Mamata to accept the findings of the committee even if they do not match her expectations. “A Singur economy has mushroomed on the back of the plant. It will be difficult for Mamata to sustain another agitation there,” an official said.

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