Sir — In his article, “Price of Singur” (July 13), Anup Sinha says that industrialization might lead to growth, but this kind of growth is often fraught with violence and involves the takeover of land. He wonders whether the lessons learnt from the events in Singur will induce people to think beyond centuries-old ideas on development. If one believes that growth will lead to economic prosperity, then it should be pursued, even if some people have to part with their land in the process. The loss can be made up for with the help of adequate compensation. Without industrialization, it would be difficult to achieve economic prosperity. For an industry to come up, the availability of land is vital. The problem lies with the pricing of the land. However, just and adequate compensation and good banking facilities should be enough incentive for landowners to part with their land.
A metallurgical plant, for example, will require a large expanse of land. Plants that produce consumer durables, however, might require less land. Industrialists from other parts of the country who are looking to invest in West Bengal would have a problem procuring land for their ventures on their own. Therefore, the government would need to come to their aid. One hopes that in the near future, the state government adopts a land procurement policy that is conducive to industrialization and is shorn of violence and bloodshed. Otherwise, West Bengal will always lag behind other Indian states as far as industrialization is concerned.
Ashok Kumar Ghosh, Calcutta
Sir — The Left Front government was in a hurry to industrialize West Bengal. The Opposition made the most of the politically sensitive situation. Industrialization in Bengal was needed at least two decades back. The Left Front government failed to bring about development at that point of time. So it acted in haste many years later. Reforms can be used to redistribute land, but once the land loses its productivity, cultivators can no longer profit from it. Unless the new state government understands this, West Bengal will continue to lose out both in agriculture and industry.
R. Subhranshu, Chandernagore, Hooghly
Sir — The articles, “Unsolved mysteries” and “The stately pleasure dome” (July 14), were eye-openers. Shedding light on Metiabruz, they highlighted just how little we know about parts of our city. Both my grandmothers grew up in the Metiabruz area, which is popular for its garment and kite industries. What is not known is that the tradition of making phuchkas that is prevalent there is also a part of its Lucknowi legacy. Metiabruz is famous for the large-scale production of unbranded garments. The production has now extended to neighbouring areas like Maheshtala and Santoshpur. Fireworks manufacturing, which can be found in the neighbouring area of Nangi, also harks back to Lucknowi roots. Metiabruz, however, does not have the usual urban entertainment spots that are found in other parts of Calcutta. People have to go as far as Maheshtala or Nangi on Wednesdays — the only day in the week when the garment industry halts production — in search of entertainment. Adheesha Sarkar, in “Unsolved mysteries”, writes that the State, it seems, “has never set foot in” this part of the city. Her observation is correct. It is sad that in spite of the thriving garment and fireworks industries, very little revenue is collected from the area. In December 2003, income tax officials and policemen were assaulted when they went to conduct a raid in Metiabruz. The garment manufacturers do not understand why they need to pay tax. They do not want to part with their hard-earned money for an entity like the State, which has done nothing for the people of Metiabruz.
It is true that the garment manufacturing industry is endangering the environment. It is polluting surface and ground water near the railway tracks by disposing contaminated water from units that dye jeans. Moreover, the place abounds in young men who travel at breakneck speed on motorbikes without helmets.
Tapan Pal, Batanagar
Sir — Many areas in Maharashtra and Gujarat are being granted the status of eco-sensitive zones. This helps prevent unplanned development and the setting up of polluting industries in these areas. The Trinamul Congress-led government of West Bengal should try to get the same status for certain parts of the state. That way, Bengal can also benefit from the funds advanced by the Centre, for the protection of these zones.
T. Kumar, New Delhi