The railway land in Howrahs Sankrail
Howrah, Dec. 10: Citu workers today stopped work on the Howrah railway land where Trinamul supporters had stalled a levelling job earlier this week demanding higher compensation and employment in return for the plot acquired in 1981.
Citu apparently went back on an understanding and cited issues such as Singur while voicing its objections, possibly hinting at the shape of things to come if elections next year lead to a change of guard at Writers Buildings.
Local Trinamul leaders, who had prevented railway contractors from working on Tuesday but softened their stance the next day, accused Citu of trying to grab the entire job of unloading fly ash for the levelling of the land at Bhagabatipur in Howrahs Sankrail. A coach manufacturing unit is to come up at the 630-acre site.
A leader of the Save Farmland Committee — the Trinamul-led forum leading the protests — claimed Citu wanted to supply all labourers for the unloading. This, he said, went against an understanding reached last night with local Citu leaders that two-third of the labourers would be from Citu and the rest from the land-loser families.
Citu denied the charges and instead accused Trinamul and the Congress of attacking the workers owing allegiance to the CPM union.
Local Trinamul MLA Sital Sardar, who had persuaded the land-losers to allow the work at the site to continue and promised them jobs once the unit came up, alleged the CPM was out to scuttle the project.
We want to sort out the problem with Citu. I have requested the Save Farmland Committee leaders to meet local Citu leaders and find a solution (to the dispute over the labourers), said Sardar.
A Citu leader, Samir Malik, said around 46 labourers, including 40 affiliated to the Left union, were engaged in the unloading at Bhagabatipur this morning. There were another six labourers from the land-loser families.
Citu-affiliated workers from Kolaghat, where the fly ash was loaded, had gone to Bhagabatipur to unload it. But Trinamul and Congress supporters beat them up, forcing them to stop work. Those beaten up had come from Kolaghat, said Malik.
But Trinamul leaders alleged 10 trucks headed to Bhagabatipur were stopped some distance from the plot.
Seven trucks were unloaded today. Then suddenly, the Citu workers stopped work and announced that they would not work any longer. They went to Dhulagarh and blocked the path of 10 trucks that were coming from Kolaghat and forced them to return, said Trinamul leader Ashis Malik, who heads the farmland committee. Citu denied the charge.
Ashis Malik claimed some Citu leaders had told him that they would work only if their union was given the entire job of unloading.
After the Citu workers stopped the unloading, some of them shouted threats and told us that they would not allow work on this project because Trinamul had opposed the Nano project in Singur, Ashis Malik said.
On Tuesday, when work was stopped for the first time, railway minister Mamata Banerjee had alleged the hand of outsiders in the trouble. But she had also expressed a willingness to honour local sentiment and said she was ready to honour any court order for higher compensation.